Far from eating the recommended five portions of fruits or vegetables a day, a new survey has revealed that half of all British children between the ages of 7 and 12 eat … none.
In the survey, carried out for Newsround, the BBC youth news programme, 1,432 boys and girls across Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England were asked about their dietary habits.
52 per cent of those polled said they eat no vegetables on a daily basis, and 44 per cent said they eat no fruit on a daily basis.
Such startling figures are one reason why Meat Free Monday has been working hard for the past few years to educate children about the benefits of healthy, meat free eating.
School visits and cookery demonstrations from famous chefs such as Rachel Demuth and Maria Elia have been key in getting children enthused about food at this early age.
While the message is clearly getting through in the schools that join MFM – as this video shows – the unhealthy eating habits revealed by the Newsround poll appear to be symptomatic of the rise of fast-food culture and decline home cooking.
33 per cent those asked said they ate unhealthy food more than three times a week; 23 per cent said they had takeaway or fast food more than three times a week.
Exactly half sat down to eat as a family every day, while 47 per cent ate a home-cooked meal every day.
The survey is particularly worrying given that one in three children in Britain is obese or overweight, a figure that has trebled in the past 25 years.
Yet even that trend could be arrested if children could be encouraged to eat more meat free meals. A study in February showed that eating less meat lowers health issues across the board for children and young people who are obese.
Click here for more information on getting involved with the MFM schools programme.