25 January 2007, 14:47 PM
  • According to a new report from Datamonitor, rising childhood obesity rates and increased media coverage of unhealthy diets has put healthy eating high on the shopping agenda for parents.

With the junk food advertising ban coming into force next month, the state of children’s health has been called into question in recent months and is something retailers need to give real consideration to.

Indeed, in its analysis, Datamonitor revealed that British children and tweens still have some of the worst eating habits in Europe. They are the biggest spenders on confectionery and fizzy drinks, and skip breakfast more often than their European counterparts. “High profile media campaigns have managed to jolt many parents into taking more control of their children’s diets in recent years. However, the impact has been minimal as kids in the UK continue to top a number of unhealthy food consumption charts,” comments Nick Beevors, market analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report.

Datamonitor has found that British children, aged five to nine years old, consume over £100 worth of confectionery and fizzy drinks respectively a year, the highest spend in Europe. Tweens are even heavier consumers at £128 and £149 on confectionery and fizzy drinks respectively. Both age groups significantly over-consume compared to population averages.

With parents looking for healthier options for their children, now is the time to stock up on a selection to suit their needs. Continues Mr Beevors, “School and college aged consumers are also particularly prone to on-the-go snacking. Grabbing a quick bite during the walk home from school has never been easier or more tempting. The busy schedules of today’s working parents also have a knock-on effect on children’s consumption, creating a need for “hold-me-over” afternoon snacks to compensate for later evening mealtimes.”

Promotions on breakfast items aimed at a younger audience could also be a step in the right direction, as the report revealed that British kids are extremely prone to skipping the ‘most important meal of the day’, breakfast, with Datamonitor predicting that children aged six to 13 will skip almost 90 breakfasts a year on average.

With these figures confirming a bleak future for today’s younger generation, manufacturers and marketers have the duty to make responsible marketing a central theme. It is important that parents feel confident about what they give their kids and they are increasingly acting out these concerns in their roles as gatekeepers of family grocery purchasing, suggesting that marketers must address parental concerns in all marketing. Moreover, there is clearly an opportunity and a need for tasty, nutritionally balanced and convenient foods. “Parents are becoming more savvy; future efforts to market better-for-you kids’ food and drink must be reflected by healthy product content, rather than marketing spin,” concludes Mr Beevors.