A major charity initiative between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco has discovered that snacking habits in the East Midlands 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 (44 percent) worry about the extra calories their families consume through unhealthy snacks , yet a third (33 percent) never actively choose nibbles that are low in fat and sugar. In fact despite nearly half of adults worrying about snacking habits, around a third of parents are still regularly offering biscuits (36 percent) or crisps (32 percent) 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 shun snacks low in fat, sugar or salt was lack of variety and that it gets boring (21 percent). Around one in seven people claimed their family prefers the taste of snacks like crisps and chocolate (15 percent) and that it is not convenient (14 percent). The survey also found, adults in the East Midlands 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 were sweet and include biscuits (36 percent) and chocolate bars (26 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.