Children consume a diet in which fatty foods are conspicuous. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey, published in 1995, showed that under-fives had a diet high in sugary and fizzy drinks, white bread, savoury snacks, chips and confectionery and low in leafy green vegetables, raw vegetables and salads (Department of Health, 1995). A comparison of the diet of 4-year-olds in 1950 with that of 4-year-olds in the 1990s revealed that despite rationing and austerity the 1950 children had healthier diets. They had higher calcium and iron intakes and consumed less sugar. Table 7.1 shows the very low consumption of soft drinks and sweets compared with children in the 1990s. Children of all ages consume unhealthy food – snacks, crisps, sweets – in such large amounts because of the
enormous advertising expenditure of food manufacturers aimed at children. A report in 1995 by the National Food Alliance found that children watched three to four times more advertising for fatty and sugary foods than adults. Seventy per cent of advertisements shown during children’s programmes were for food compared with only 20 per cent during adult programmes (Cooper, 1995a). The phenomenon of ‘snacking’ among children has contributed to the poor diet of the nation’s youngsters.