Sushi and quinoa replace sausage and chips as staples of Scottish children’s diet

Research shows that up to 86 per cent of children are actively asking to try new foods they haven't tried previously, like sushi. Picture: contributed
Research shows that up to 86 per cent of children are actively asking to try new foods they haven't tried previously, like sushi. Picture: contributed
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It used to be that children lived on a diet of fizzy juice, sausage and chips – with the occasional fish finger thrown in for variety.

But now, sushi, soy milk and avocado are being heralded as staples of Scottish children’s diets – according to a brand new study which shines a spotlight on the evolution of the national palate.

Over two-thirds of youngsters have a far more varied diet than their parents had, the report has revealed – with the likes of oat milk and quinoa also amongst the foods soaring in popularity since the 1980s.

When it comes to snacks, healthy choices largely lead the way as apple tops list of nibbles that children are most likely to request from their parents. Blueberries, strawberries and carrots are also high on the list, while biscuits and cake lag behind in 11th and 14th place.

A total of 45 per cent of Scottish parents say their child eats more fruit and vegetables than they did when they were young – while one third of children eat vegetables with almost every meal.

The culinary revolution that has occurred over the last three decades has also led to children enjoying a far wider variety of global foods compared to their parents – with research showing a 126 per cent increase in children under the age of nine enjoying avocados as a staple of their diet compared to 30 years ago.

Sweet potatoes top the list of previously unusual foods now enjoyed regularly by children, according to the report, which polled 2,000 parents with children of school age. Mango and passion fruit have also soared in popularity.

Meanwhile, nine in ten choose to take charge over mealtimes and what they eat. The research shows that up to 86 per cent of children are actively asking to try new foods 
they haven’t tried previously.

Dietician Laura Clark said: “What Millennials (and Gen X) have grown up taking as gospel, is now being vigorously challenged. We can see from this research that compared to their parents, children are embracing plant-based alternatives to dairy, wholegrains rich in protein, such as quinoa and alternative sources of protein, for example edamame beans.

“The younger generation will continue to demand more from the foods they consume, both in terms of sustainability and authenticity about the ingredients they contain and the health benefits they provide, from now and in the future”.

The survey also found that youngsters are 400 per cent more likely to have tried a milk alternative with breakfast – such as oat, almond or soy – than their parents would have at their age. Sweet potatoes, olives, asparagus and kale have also rocketed in popularity among young children.

A spokesman for cereal brand Kellogg’s, which commissioned the research, said: “It’s amazing to see the changing tastes of the UK, especially coming from the younger generation.”

Scotland’s school meals have recently seen a move away from more traditional “kid food” to healthier, more exotic options.

Last year, the Scottish Government banned fruit juice and smoothies in a bid to cut children’s sugar intake, while processed meat is restricted to 100g a day in Scotland’s state schools.

More vegetables and fruit will be on offer whenever food is served in schools – including tuck shops – from next August, while red meat will also be restricted on school menus.