British kids are highest spenders on confectionery, sodas

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags United kingdom Soft drink Nutrition Datamonitor

Children in the UK spend more on confectionery and fizzy drinks
than any of their European counterparts, according to the latest
report by market researcher Datamonitor.

The nation also has the highest percentage of children who skip breakfast, says the report, which states that these consumption habits result in British kids having the worst diets in Europe.

"High profile media campaigns have managed to jolt many parents into taking more control over 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,"​ said Nick Beevors, market analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report.

According to the report, British children aged 5-9 consume over 100 (152) worth of confectionery per year, and spend an equal amount on carbonated drinks. Children aged 10-13 spend 128 (194) on confectionery and 149 (226) on fizzy drinks annually.

Compared to population averages, this marks a significant over-consumption, said Datamonitor.

The next heaviest kid consumers of confectionery are children in the Netherlands, followed by France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

When it comes to kids consumption of fizzy drinks, Spain reveals the highest consumption figures after the UK, followed by Germany, Italy the Netherlands and France.

"School and college aged consumers are also particularly prone to on-the-go snacking. Grabbing a quick snack 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,"​ said Beevors.

British kids are also most likely to skip breakfast, with Datamonitor revealing that they skip almost 90 breakfasts a year, which corresponds to about one quarter of all breakfasts. They are followed by children from the Netherlands, who skip around 60 breakfasts, and Spanish kids, who skip almost 55. Next in line are kids from France, Germany, Sweden and Italy.

The bad diets of children in the UK have led to rising obesity rates, said Datamonitor. Around 2.1 million (32 per cent) of UK children are thought to be overweight or obese, and current predictions also envisage further rises. By 2011, 37 per cent of UK children are expected to be overweight or obese.

According to the new report, manufacturers and marketers of food products have the duty to make responsible marketing a central theme of all kid focused targeting in the future.

Responsible marketing is a reaction to an increasingly commercialized world. A new age of targeting youth has dawned with parents, teachers, government figures and media owners asking more questions about every aspect of marketing to kids. Marketers must balance the well-being of kids with the success of their efforts,​ said Datamonitor.

The report also stressed that parents must feel confident about what they give to their children. Parents 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.

"Parents are becoming more savvy; future efforts to market better-for-you kids' food and drinks must be reflected by healthy product content rather than marketing spin,"​ said Beevors.

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