Fish is chicken and chocolate is fruit: children lack basic food knowledge

Meal with fish fingers

It's Healthy Eating Week and children across the UK are learning more about nutrition. Which is probably wise: 18 per cent of five- to seven-year-olds think fish fingers are made of chicken and 16 per cent of the same age group categorise chocolate, bread, yoghurt and salmon in the fruit and vegetables food group.

The results come from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), which surveyed over 5,000 school children aged five to 16 years old.

One in ten eleven- to 14-year-olds didn't know that carrots and potatoes grow underground and six per cent of 14- to 16-year-olds apparently think dairy cows produce eggs. A full quarter of the older kids polled mistakenly think they're getting one of their five-a-day from strawberry jam – although the basic message about getting five portions of fruit and veg a day is getting through.

The BNF investigated the main sources of nutritional information for children and discovered 54 per cent of eleven- to 14-year-olds and 64 per cent of those aged 14 to 16 'use the internet as a reliable source of information on healthy eating'. Children are getting information from school too, but the BNF is calling for teachers to have better training.

"With no formal professional support provided to teachers centrally, schools and individual teachers take on the responsibility for interpreting and delivering the curriculum in their own way," says Roy Ballam, Managing Director and Head of Education at the British Nutrition Foundation.

"This approach means that there is a risk of conflicting or misleading messaging being disseminated through schools across the UK. This, combined with the latest results of the survey showing that the Internet is one of the most popular sources of information for teenagers, means that it has never been more important for schools and teachers to be armed with the correct information so that children and young adults are able to decipher between fact and fake news."

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