Nutritionally rich foods are being displaced by nutritionally poor foods says safefood

safefood website designed to empower parents to keep their kids healthy

17 February, 2006. Earlier today, safefood launched a new component to its website to support parents to help improve their children’s diets. Results of the National Children’s Nutrition Survey, conducted by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance, reveal that almost 20% of calories in children’s diets come from treat foods. Furthermore, the survey revealed that 20% of boys are either overweight, or obese, and 23% of girls are overweight, or obese. The development of this informative and practical website is another step taken by safefood to address the potential health problems caused by poor diets.

Treat foods can be high in fat, especially saturated fat, which can be detrimental to children’s heart health in the long term. The safefood website, for both parents and children, aims to help reduce treat foods in their diet. It focuses on practical and realistic healthy eating advice for parents. It also contains a children’s section with an interactive element, which aims to makes learning about food and nutrition fun for this age group.

To protect children’s health in the future, the website has several sections, which arm parents with the knowledge to reduce treat foods in their child’s diet, and also provides practical alternatives to typical treat foods. Parents can access information on balanced lunch boxes, a food diary to assess their own diet, after school-eating tips, on-the-go eating and also simple shopping tips. The website also endeavours to bring nutrition alive for children, through its interactive elements with games and quizzes.

Dr. Cliodhna Foley Nolan, Director of Human Health and Nutrition with safefood said, “Too many treat foods are being consumed by many children and these nutritionally poor foods are displacing nutritionally rich foods. The new section of our website is the second phase in our campaign to encourage parents to rebalance their children’s eating. At the moment, children are eating too many treat foods and not enough essentials, like fruit and vegetables. Treat foods, such as crisps, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, sweets and fizzy drinks can be high in fat, saturated fat or sugar. Over-consumption of these types of foods may lead to health problems in the long- term. We are not saying that children should cut treats out altogether, we just want them to reduce the number of food treats they eat to a sensible level.”

The tips and advice provided by safefood on the new web section really concentrate on tackling the daily challenge for parents to make healthy food choices. The lunch box section, for example, generates a weekly menu of balanced and healthy lunch box ideas, which can be changed to suit a child’s likes and dislikes. The shopping section covers what is important when reading nutrition labels so that is can be done quickly, and gives coping strategies to deal with pester power.

For more information contact safefood at 1850 404 567, or check out the safefood website,


For further information please contact

Fiona Gilligan


Tel: (01) 4480600


Andrew Hyland / Niamh Burdett


Tel: 01 6690030 087 9088 322 17th February 2006

* Results of the National Children’s Survey of 5-12y olds in ROI. (IUNA, 2005).

Editors Notes

  • Treat foods include chocolate, crisps, sweets, cakes, biscuits and pastries.
  • Excessive body weight is linked to the development of heart disease and diabetes. Figures from the Diabetes Federation of Ireland show that the incidence of diabetes in children in Ireland has risen dramatically in recent years, rising from 1445 cases in 2001 to 2224 cases in 2003, a 55% rise in two years. Results of the National Children’s Survey of 5-12y olds in ROI. (IUNA, 2005).
  • Cakes, biscuits, savoury snacks, chocolate and confectionary contribute 18% of children’s energy (calorie) intake and 21% of their total fat intake
  • 40% children have dietary fat intake above the current recommendations
  • 8% boys are classified as obese and 12% overweight. 14% girls are classified as obese and 9% overweight
  • A large percentage of boys and girls not getting enough vitamins and minerals in their diets i.e. undernourished o 28% boys and 37% girls are not getting enough calcium in their diets. Calcium is especially important for a growing child to build strong teeth and bones.
  • 34% girls are not getting enough iron in their diets. Iron is very important for physical and mental development. A lack of iron i.e. anaemia can led to lack of energy and poor concentration. Health Behaviour in school aged children (2002). Department of Health and Children.
  • 30% Irish children (aged 10-11y) drink soft drinks every day
  • 53% Irish children (aged 10-11y) eat sweets everyday • 20% Irish children (aged 10-11y) do not eat breakfast on school days Diabetes Federation of Ireland (2005)
  • The incidence of diabetes in children in Ireland has risen dramatically in recent years, rising from 1445 cases in 2001 to 2224 cases in 2003, a 55% rise in two years.
  • Sixty two of these cases were type-two diabetes, which is usually found in older people. Type 2 diabetes is commonly found among the older population. However, it is becoming increasingly common in younger people, including adolescents, mainly due to lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and rising obesity levels.