Are the young starting to take healthy eating more seriously? James Durston reports

The message about health seems to be filtering through to the fast food generation. As the second and latest Teen Vision survey from Coutts UK shows, teenagers are reporting healthier eating habits than they did a year ago.
Forty-three per cent now claim to eat fruit and veg every day, up 14% on last year when the survey was first conducted, and just 1% say McDonald’s is their favourite meal, down 7%.
Catherine Dixon, marketing manager at Coutts UK, says: “Teenagers are now quite proud of being healthy. They take it a lot more seriously. It shows that the messages are getting through.”
Only 12% of the 800 students at a comprehensive school in Surrey who took part in the survey say they don’t eat healthily. The 13 to 15-year-olds report the best diets, nearly half saying they eat fruit and veg every day, with only 3% never eating them. The 11 to 12-year-olds also display a healthy attitude, with 28% saying they eat fruit and veg every day.
So, does this mean that teenagers will soon be abandoning McDonald’s in favour of their local fruit and veg shops? Not quite. Although a lot of teenagers are eating more fruit and veg, they still eat high amounts of unhealthy foods too. For example, 26% of 11 to 12-year-olds eat fast food every day, 24% eat crisps every day and 35% eat sweets and chocolate every day. And nearly a third of 16 to 18-year-olds never eat fruit or veg, nearly a third again say they drink fizzy drinks every day and 40% eat crisps every day.
Worryingly, a recent report suggests that attempts to alter behaviour through labelling may be misdirected, particularly with regards to low income families. London Metropolitan University research shows that most mothers in this demographic classify food by occasion (main meal or snack) rather than nutrition. A spokesman says: “The findings have profound implications for the ways in which nutritional advice is disseminated.”
The Coutts UK survey also explored which foods and drinks were teenagers’ favourites. Last year’s favourites of pizza, pasta and curry retained their top positions with 48% of the total vote.
Coca-Cola was the favourite drink with 54% of the vote from 11 to 12-year-olds, 42% from 13 to 15-year-olds and 60% from 16 to 18-year-olds. And, despite a strong showing last year, alcohol has vanished from the list of favourites. Juice, water, Fanta and milkshakes now make up the rest of the top five.
Crisps and chocolate are the preferred snacks taking 36% and 35% of the total vote respectively, although fruit and apples get a look in with 11 to 12-year-olds. Thirty per cent of chocolate fans mentioned specific brands, with Kit Kat a clear favourite.

M&S is full of old people… but it does great sandwiches
>>teenagers are sensitive to store environments
Call them fussy, but teenagers notice a store’s layout, design and staff, and they all affect whether they will shop there.
In the Coutts UK survey, 72% said the look of a store was important, with 47% going so far as to say they wouldn’t spend money in a store that did not look good. Sixty-six per cent said the space and layout of a store was an important part of its appeal, and 70% said friendly, helpful staff also made an important difference. However, 74% added that it was important that the staff left you alone to browse.
The results of the poll include all retail outlets, but the message is clear: you can’t take teenage spend for granted.
When asked to name anything else that made a store appealing, price was the only response.
When teenagers were asked to name favourite and least favourite shops, M&S was least favourite with some as it was “old fashioned and full of old people” and Asda was boring.
However, both also scored as favourites, M&S for its sarnies and Asda for its prices.