Food on Friday: Anything to avoid a mealtime tantrum?

67% of parents let their children decide what to eat at mealtimes

Family eating infographicWho chooses what you eat – your children or you? In our family there are some rules – everyone has to eat some vegetables, carbs and protein at a main meal before getting dessert. A new survey has looked at eating habits in the UK with some shocking results.

The survey asked: “Do you let your children decide what to eat?” To which 67% of parents said, yes.

They also asked parents how often they allowed their children to eat snacks, convenience and fast foods as well as sugary drinks.

  • Sugary and fizzy drinks – 62% of parents allow their children to drink these every day.
  • Caffeine drinks – 14% of children are drinking these drinks every day.
  • Crisps and Snacks – 32% of parents let their children eat these every day.
  • Chocolate, biscuits & breakfast bars – 39% of parents give their children these every day.
  • Raw vegetables, fruit or nuts as a snack – 26% of parents have never given their children these.
  • Pre-prepared ready meals – 45% of parents will feed their children these meals at least a couple of times a week.
  • Sausage rolls & shop bought sandwiches – 28% of children are given these at least once a week.

The also looked at family attitudes to food, they found that 20% of parents don’t involve their children in meal preparations, 23% don’t eat as a family and 39% admitted that their children are fussy eaters.

The survey of 1000 parents by online voucher code website  asked parents: “If you are out and your child misbehaves, how would you get them to behave?” they found that 11% will bribe their children with food such as sweets or snacks. If their child/children refuse to eat something, 54% of parents will punish them, such as denying dessert or sending them to bed early.

Commenting on the findings, Mark Pearson founder of My Voucher Codes said:  “A Recent study has shown that family environment was the most important factor in determining children’s physical activity levels, they found that parental habits greatly impact their children. As our results show, the majority of parents let their children have a lot of freedom as to what they eat.  They also look like they relent and let their children eat or drink things which we know are not so healthy.”

He added:

“It is important that children have healthy and balanced diets and reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks they have. However we know from our research this can be easier said than done, especially as some children can be very fussy eaters and these patterns can be hard to break.”


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