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Pester power winning over parents as salty snacks invade school lunches

More than a third of Australian kids eat a mostly unhealthy diet, and less than 5 per cent are eating enough vegetables.

Leading dietitian and author Karen Inge says 37 per cent of 4 to 8-year-olds get their energy from unhealthy foods such as cakes, biscuits, takeaway food, and soft drinks.

A survey conducted by the Cancer Council’s LiveLighter campaign found banana bread and choc-chip muffins were among the worst offenders. Just one serving can contain up to two-thirds of the recommended daily intake of sodium for 9-13-year-olds.

Karen tells 3AW’s Dee Dee Dunleavy it’s not a lack of health knowledge preventing parents from making good lunchbox choices, it’s a lack of confidence saying ‘no’.

“It appears that young children today have a lot of choice about what they eat, and they seem to have more control than in my day, definitely, and even in my children’s day.

“They were sort of told ‘Well, this is what you’re eating, this is what we’re having for dinner’. But today, it’s sort of ‘What would you like for dinner?’”

She suggests part of the solution lies with parents – especially dads – enjoying better diets themselves.

“Role-modelling is critical. It’s important for fathers as well as mothers, because a lot of the time the mothers might eat more healthily – the research is suggesting that perhaps dads might not like vegetables as much or don’t eat as many salads – and it’s amazing how kids do observe that.”

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