British children as young as five spend more than £100 a year on fizzy drinks and sweets, according to research published today.
Just a day after MPs accused the government of ‘dithering’ over its strategy on childhood obesity, a new study sheds light on youngsters’ unhealthy habits.
Market analyst Datamonitor found that British children spend far more on confectionery and fizzy drinks than their European counterparts.
They were also far more likely to snack ‘on the go’, the research found.
Highest in Europe
The study found that British children aged five to nine consume over £100 of confectionery and over £100 of fizzy drinks a year – the highest spend in Europe.
Those aged 10 to 13 consume even more, with an average spend each of £128 on confectionery and £149 on fizzy drinks.
Those figures were way ahead of other European countries.
British children aged six to 13 are also more likely to skip breakfast than their European counterparts, according to the study.
By 2010, Datamonitor predicts that British children will miss 90 breakfasts a year. The figure will be 58 in the Netherlands, 55 in Spain, 45 in France, 39 in Germany, 37 in Sweden and 30 in Italy.
A report from the Department of Health published last year predicted that more than 12 million adults and one million children will be obese by 2010 if no action is taken.
The Health Survey for England warned that 19 per cent of boys and 22 per cent of girls aged two to 15 will be obese.
The government has set a target to halt the increase in obesity among under-11s by 2010, but is widely expected to miss it.
Jemma Edwards, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK, said: ‘Ten years ago, type 2 diabetes in children was unheard of in the UK.
‘Now we have over a thousand cases which will keep increasing if the obesity trend isn’t reversed.’
She added: ‘Junk food advertising to kids must be banned and a much firmer line needs to be taken to force the food industry to adhere to food labelling guidelines so people know what’s in the food they buy.’
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