Youth eating patterns better than many believe

by Staff
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CHICAGO — The eating habits of children and teenagers are not as bad as many adults believe, according to new research from Mintel.

In fact, 42% of children and teenagers go for foods that provide more energy and over a third purposefully eat foods rich in vitamins and nutrients. About a fourth try to eat foods low in fat, and 22% look for foods low in sugar.

"The battle is half won," said Chris Haack, senior analyst at Mintel. "Kids understand that food gives them energy and improves their overall health. Now the challenge is to motivate more young people to actively improve what, when and how much they eat and to place healthfulness above indulgence more frequently than not."

Sixty-five per cent of children and teenagers said they eat dinner at home at least five times a week, and 33% said they eat dinner at home daily. Teenagers are especially receptive to healthy eating messages with 66% of teens saying they believe eating provides energy/vitality and 61% saying it is important to eat a balanced diet.

While two in five teenagers said they like the trend toward healthier fast food, the No. 1 fast-food restaurant youth visit is still McDonald’s.

"Health and wellness campaigns have impacted kids’ and teens’ food perceptions, but they haven’t completely changed their eating habits," Mr. Haack said. "Companies need to find ways to reinvent home-based meals and energize healthy snacking so today’s youth can see the benefits of better nutrition and take action."

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