Worrying trend in snacking habits may be contributing to ‘obesity crisis’

More than one-third of Scottish parents are still regularly offering crisps (37 percent) as snacks for their children either alongside or in between meals.
More than one-third of Scottish parents are still regularly offering crisps (37 percent) as snacks for their children either alongside or in between meals.

A major charity initiative between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco has discovered that snacking habits in Scotland are risking families’ long term health.

A survey commissioned by the National Charity Partnership, a partnership between the three organisations, found that nearly half of all adults in Scotland (45 percent) worry about the extra calories their families consume through unhealthy snacks, yet almost three in ten (29 percent) never actively choose nibbles that are low in fat and sugar.

In fact, despite nearly half of those surveyed worrying about snacking habits, more than one-third of Scottish parents are still regularly offering crisps (37 percent) and 45 percent say they offer biscuits as snacks for their children either alongside or in between meals.

Katherine Hale, Prevention Programme manager for the National Charity Partnership, said: “Eating foods high in fat and sugar on a regular basis can contribute to increased calorie consumption – which can then increase the likelihood of being overweight. It’s particularly concerning that crisps and biscuits are still popular snacks for children because the food habits we learn at a young age can become ingrained and stay with us into adulthood.

“By developing unhealthy habits, you may be risking your family’s health. Regularly consuming ‘empty calories’ from snacks that contain lots of calories but little to no nutrients heightens your risk of obesity and the long-term conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease associated with this.“

As the summer holidays come to an end and a new school year begins, the National Charity Partnership is launching its Snack Goals Challenge to help UK families start the new term right by making some healthy snack swaps to curb those junk food cravings and improve their long-term health.

The partnership is encouraging people to set a goal to ‘eat healthy snacks’ using its online Eight Week Challenge. To support the challenge, the partnership has developed a series of articles to provide affordable and tasty recipe inspiration at https://lets-dothis.org.uk/tips/topics/snack-well/. Ideas include swapping crisps and biscuits for air-popped popcorn with cinnamon or spicy chilli.

Ms. Hale said: “Snacks are usually small and can seem insignificant. However the reality is that the calories they provide can really add up, especially for children. By making a change now and taking our Snack Goals Challenge, to swap to healthier snacks it will help you stay on track and kick those bad snacking habits. For even more motivation, take the challenge with the whole family or friends for that extra element of competition.”

The most common reason why people in Scotland shun snacks low in fat, sugar or salt is that it costs too much money (24 percent). Almost one in five people in Scotland (18 percent) said that healthier snacks lack variety and 16 percent of those surveyed claimed their family prefers the taste of snacks like crisps and chocolate. The survey also found that adults in Scotland have a sweet tooth when it comes to snacking choices, with mid-afternoon the most popular time to snack. Four of the top five regularly consumed snacks for adults are sweet and include biscuits (37 percent) and chocolate bars (28 percent).

The National Charity Partnership between Diabetes UK, the BHF and Tesco is working to help millions of people look after their bodies and reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease by moving more and eating healthily.

To get involved set your goal at www.lets-dothis.org.uk/challenge and upload your healthy snack ideas on social media using the #snackgoalschallenge.