Dr Dawn Harper urges parents to switch from crisps to nuts with new campaign
The news follows a report from Censuswide that found that parents were more than twice as likely to give their children crisps as a snack, with 92% of children given crisps at least once a week compared to 26% being fed nuts.
The study of 1,000 parents with children aged 5-12 found that one in ten parents knew the health benefits of nuts and 30% thought nuts were too salty for their children.
Harper highlighted one of the study’s findings that on average British kids snack on over 1.4 billion bags of crisps a year – consuming 657 tonnes of salt in the process.
Dr Dawn Harper said: "Despite the fact almost a quarter of parents say they give their children a snack as a way of getting extra nutrients into their diet, they also reveal that they prefer to give their child sugary and salty snacks like crisps and cereal bars than nuts as a snack.
“We want to change that. Nuts are a great, tasty way of getting good fats, and key vitamins and minerals into the diet which can help children's growth, development and cognitive function."
As part of her new campaign, Harper aims to educate parents on why nuts should be considered as a healthy part of a child's diet.
A spokesperson for the Association of British Dieticians said: "Obesity and salt intake are really important issues we are facing as a society, so it's alarming to see that many healthy foods such as nuts aren't getting the air time they need to ensure parents are aware of the benefits they can have for their children.
“While it's absolutely important to ensure nuts are unsalted and are small, or halved to avoid choking, primary aged children would benefit massively from adding more unsalted nuts, and less crisps, sweets and chocolate to their diets."
Harper recognised that 19% of parents listed allergen concern as key reasons to for not giving nuts to their children but said that although ‘very serious’, they are not as common as believed- affecting just 2% of children, with most allergic to peanuts specifically.
“Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and cashews are a natural source of protein and many other nutrients for muscle and bone development, aiding energy release and helping build a healthy immune system,” added Harper.