Families are being encouraged to choose healthier food options when it comes to the weekly store, as new research has found they spend nearly twice as much on treats as they do on fruits and vegetables.
Supermarket shopping data revealed that families with children spent an average of €746 on groceries in the month to April 17, of which €159 (21%) was spent on treats such as cookies , crisps and chocolate. In comparison, only €49 (6.6%) was spent on fruit and €37 (5%) on vegetables.
Based on these figures, a healthy eating campaign from safefood, HSE and Healthy Ireland is encouraging parents to take action for a healthier lifestyle for their children. The Start campaign, however, recognizes that recent increases in food prices are making it harder for families to fill a shopping cart with healthy options.
“While costs are rising for everyday foods like milk or bread, products like crisps and chocolate have not seen the same price increases,” said Sarah O’Brien, national food manager. HSE healthy eating and active living programme.
“This can make it difficult for families when trying to ensure their weekly store has the right balance of foods. So while we know it’s hard, we encourage families to talk about the small changes they can make.
Price increases for foods like crisps, confectionery and soft drinks have ranged from 1.9% to 2.2% over the past 12 months, according to the latest data from the Central Bureau of Statistics. This compares to increases ranging from 0.3% for vegetables, 1.8% for fruit, 4.7% for meat, 8.1% for bread and 8.9% for milk.
“We know parents and guardians want to do their best,” Ms O’Brien said. “However, we also know that the environment we live in makes it difficult for parents and children to be indulgent with treats. They are all around us and the food industry is investing heavily in marketing and promoting these products on TV, online, in-store, in public spaces and more.
“Parents know the impact the past two years have had on their family’s lives and the pressures they face, especially with tightening household food budgets,” said Dr Aileen McGloin, director of the nutrition at safefood.
“Parents try to cut down on treats, but they need help to do that…All families have different circumstances, so it’s all about picking what works for you and your kids and starting there. to make healthier choices.
The Start Campaign is a five-year public health awareness campaign encouraging families to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle for their children. Visit www.makeastart.ie for practical advice and help on how to cut back on sweets, healthy snack ideas and expert parenting advice.