fussytoddlerA significant amount of UK infants don’t know where common foods come from, a new report by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) has revealed.

The survey of more than 27,500 primary school children found that nearly a third (29 per cent) thought cheese grew on trees, and nearly a fifth (18 per cent) thought that fish fingers were made of chicken.

The survey was part of the BNF’s Healthy Eating Week, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of a balanced diet with school children. More than 3,000 schools – involving some 1.2 million children – are taking part in events throughout the week, which will teach children valuable lessons on healthy eating, cooking and the sources of food.

However, despite the alarming headline statistics, UK children are beginning to get the message on healthy eating. Encouragingly, 64 per cent of children recognised the eatwell plate, while 77 per cent of primary school pupils and 88 per cent of secondary school pupils knew that people should consume five or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day (although the number of children who did this was significantly less).

Re-engaging children with the origins of food
Ray Ballam, education programme manager at the BNF, said: “Schools throughout the UK require a national framework and guidance for food and nutrition education to support the learning needs of children and young people, especially at a time when levels of childhood obesity are soaring. Through Healthy Eating Week, we hope to start the process of re-engaging children with the origins of food, nutrition and cooking, so that they grow up with a fuller understanding of how food reaches them and what a healthy diet and lifestyle consists of. The fact that so many schools in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have registered to participate in the Week demonstrates their understanding of how important healthy eating is and their commitment to giving children a solid grounding from which to create healthy lives for themselves.”

Commenting on the report, Judy More, paediatric dietitian and member of the Infant and Toddler Forum said: ““It is not unusual for children to be confused about food and where it comes from when compared with previous generations, less food preparation and cooking is done in the home and in school lessons. It’s never too young to start learning about food and even toddlers respond very enthusiastically to opportunities for simple cooking and food preparation when it is offered in nurseries or at home.”