Trends - Food Choices

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  Attitudes to healthy eating and weight control 1983-2007

The following is a summary of a report available from SHEU (£10 incl. p&p).

Using new data, from over 548,000 young people, we are updating the Trends reports that have data from 1983.
Recent results confirm the trend we have observed each year in our annual publications. The peak of wanting to lose weight may have been reached for the 14-15 year old females and may continue to hover around the 58% average. We have shown each year that far more older females want to lose weight (57% in 2007) compared with the number that are overweight (12% in 2007).
Interestingly the data show that more 14-15 year old females, in recent years, are happy with their weight as it is compared with earlier years.

Table 1. 14-15 year old females
% who ate school lunch and miss breakfast
Type of schoolday lunch
Nothing for breakfast
 
1994
2007
School cafeteria
25%
14%
School set lunch
3%
14%
Packed lunch
25%
23%
Takeaway or shop
12%
6%
Went home
12%
4%
Did not have any lunch
25%
40%
Table 2. 14-15 year old females
Attitude to weight and having nothing for breakfast
Attitude to weight
Nothing for breakfast
 
1994
2007
Would like to put on weight
13%
14%
Would like to lose weight
20%
18%
Happy with weight
14%
10%
The main items of interest in Table 1 are the similarity (around 25%) of those reporting nothing for breakfast and having a packed lunch at school and, in 2007, the rise to 40%, from 25% in 1994, of those having no breakfast or schoolday lunch.
In Table 2, the similarities in the data from 1994 and 2007 are noteworthy. Around 19% of 14-15 year old females, who responded in 1994 and 2007 to having ‘nothing for breakfast’, also expressed a desire to lose weight.
Table 3. 14-15 year old females - Attitude to weight and worrying about how they look
Attitude to weight
Never worry about looks
Worry a little about looks
Worry a lot about looks
 
1994
2007
1994
2007
1994
2007
Would like to put on weight
8%
12%
41%
36%
51%
52%
Would like to lose weight
3%
5%
29%
29%
68%
66%
Happy with weight
9%
14%
49%
48%
43%
38%

Table 3 shows connections between questions about worrying about how I look and attitude to weight. The highest percentages (around 67%) relate to those 14-15 year old females that worry a lot about their looks and would like to lose weight - however, there is little differnece between 1994 and 2007.

The report, "Trends:Young People and Food Choices" covers 13 topics: Nothing at all to eat for breakfast, cooked breakfast, cereal for breakfast, just a drink for breakfast, had no schoolday lunch, ate school lunch, ate a packed lunch, went home for lunch, ate fresh fruit on most days, ate chips or roast potatoes on most days, ate crisps on most days, consider health when choosing food, want to lose weight.

For further information about the trends data please email: david.mcgeorge@sheu.org.uk

Topics: 

Comments about SHEU

"The (named) Children and Young People's Partnership has benefitted from the results of the SHEU survey locally for many years now, and we should like to continue to do so in future."

Consultant in Public Health Medicine

"You have made a truly significant contribution to health education and health promotion of young people in, not only England, but all over the United Kingdom and beyond." Colleague from NHS Scotland paying tribute to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

NHS Scotland

I think the HRBQ is an absolutely wonderful, informative tool and I am keen to really encourage schools/other relevant partners (as appropriate) to utilise this invaluable data to encourage voice of the child, and subsequently contribute to shaping priorities and services.

Senior Health Improvement Practitioner (Children and Young People)

"On behalf of all the health promoters in Scotland I would like to say a big thank to you and your colleagues for your excellent work over the years. This includes not only your survey work but your role as a visiting examiner in Scotland and adviser on course development."
Tribute from a Health Commissioner to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Health Commissioner

“(The SHEU survey) was very, very useful. It gave us reassurance we weren’t missing a trick. For example not many pupils in the sample year groups were taking illegal drugs, which re-enforced our opinions. But the survey also raised issues and flagged some things up. We discovered that some of our girls weren’t eating enough – the percentage of girls in our school not eating lunch the day before the survey was higher than the county average. There were other concerns too, specifically around cigarettes, alcohol and attendance.
The school used this data and took a number of actions to address it. More female peer mentors were put in place and the school asked NEXUS (the Extended Schools service) for help, so they developed a programme for girls which addressed their eating patterns, healthy eating, sex education and self-esteem issues.
We ran an anti-bullying group for Year 9 as a preventative measure, based upon data provided by our current Year 10 students.
The travel data revealed that a high number of pupils took the car to school so we involved the BIKE-IT scheme who ran assemblies, brought in their bikes (including one with a pedal-powered smoothie maker!), and raised awareness of health and green issues.
The information about how happy the students were with their lives raised some concerns as far fewer girls were as happy as the boys, so work was done around developing aspirations, role-models and self-esteem."        
 

Deputy Head, Secondary School

Any comments on specific survey questions that may have caused difficulty? No problems. My children were fully briefed before the survey and they understood that they could miss questions if they did not want to answer them. We did not have any children with any concerns regarding the survey at all.

Any comments on the use of the web site? No it was easy to use.

Any general comments on the exercise? The children really enjoyed completing the survey, It has lead to many positive discussions about our health and how we all have slightly different experiences and home lives.

Class teacher

Thank you for following up with schools the comments that caused concern. It is very sad to hear that some of our children have these thoughts and feelings and I am so grateful that you were able to make the schools aware of this so that they can attempt to offer some support.

This is another reason why I am so pleased that we have been able to work with you to offer this survey.

Health and Wellbeing Adviser

"Thank you from my staff to you and all your staff. The speed of 'turn-around' of the questionnaires is outstanding in anyone's terms." Headteacher

Headteacher

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your work regarding writing and compiling the sex education survey. The survey was well executed and the schools have found their individual reports very helpful. The results of the survey have enabled the Local Campaign Group to justify the need for young men's campaigns and given us invaluable insight as to the thoughts and experiences of this target group."

Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Manager

"I have valued greatly the work I have done with the team in Exeter, it has been a highlight of my years here." Health Promotion Specialist

Health Promotion Specialist