The consumption of fast food by Australian teenager has been a hotly debated topic for many years. With the release of new data from the National Health Survey, it seems that our theories and discussions may have to change.
Just how much fast food is too much? Which type of fast food poses more health risks than others? To answer these questions, we need to examine what the NHMS tells us about Australia’s relationship with fast food.
Among a range of topics, the survey looks at how often Australian’s eat, what they eat, who they spend most of their time with and how they feel about their health. For example the report shows that in 2011–12, an average adult consumed three serves (or approximately 1.7 meals) of fast food every week. Although this is down from 3.2 serves per week in 2007–08, it is not much of a decrease.
What do we know about the fast food carried by Australian teenagers? The survey shows that teenagers eat, on average, two serves of fast food weekly. We may not be surprised by this figure as we think of fast food consumption as an American indulgence, but it is actually more common here than in many other developed countries.
As teenagers are the most vulnerable to the toxins in our food supply, it is essential that they are not exposed to excess amounts. Remember, all fast food carries a risk of fatality if consumed in excess and young people are especially vulnerable to fat and sugar content. As so many fast food companies use high-sugar, high-fat products to tempt teenagers we need to make sure that they are not suffering from excess consumption.
So what types of fast food do teens choose? The survey shows 58 per cent of teenagers eat takeaway. The most desirable foods for teens are pizza (25%) and hamburgers (21%). As pizza and burgers are higher in fat than other fast foods, this may explain why fast food intake among teenagers is so high.
Could the increase in fast food consumption among teenage be explained by the amount of time they spend with their friends? The survey shows that an average teenager spends half their free time with friends away from school, work or home. In fact, only 40 per cent of the typical teenager’s free time is spent at home. So it seems that teenage fast food consumption is not just related to changes in their lifestyles, but to the way our teenagers spend their time outside of school.
The survey contains other interesting insights into Australian teens’ health and lifestyle. A greater proportion of respondents said they were in good health than they were a year ago, and the proportion of smokers has decreased slightly.
Despite this positive news, there are still many other areas where we could improve. Even though school physical education classes could help improve our children’s physical fitness, only 35 per cent of teenagers report being involved in these activities once a week. This is worrying as physical fitness and weight control are so important for preventing disease and helping teenagers to achieve a healthy weight.
If we want to help keep our teenagers healthy, we need to provide them with opportunities for physical activities and make sure that they know how to limit their exposure to toxic fast food. The National Health Survey’s new statistics show that this may also mean changing the social habits of our teenagers. Beyond getting more exercise, it would be beneficial if they spent more of their free time at home with family, where healthier home-cooked meals are more likely to be provided.
List of Foods That Are Dangerous For Teenagers
Here is the list of food that Teenagers should not eat. You can read it to make sure you are okay with your diet.
- Ice Cream
Studies have shown that ice cream is a no-go food for teenagers as it is high in refined sugar and fat content. This is even more dangerous for teens who are still growing or still struggling to regulate their body weight.
- Iced Tea
Commonly served in the USA, Chinese teas are high in calories and sugar content. Studies have shown that even low-fat iced tea is still really high in calories, and it also leads to excessive weight gain.
- French Fries and Chips
Fries and chips are made from potatoes, which are full of carbohydrates and a good source of vitamin C. This means that they have a lot of calories for a small serving size. So not only will it lead to weight gain but also increase your risk for heart diseases.
This is a very common dessert and a favorite snack for kids. However, it is way too high in sugar content. It can also cause cavities because of all the sugar content, so it’s best to stay away from this one!
- Frosted Flakes Frosted flake are made from whole grains making them a good source of fiber and many other nutrients. However, it is not a good snack for teenagers because of its high sugar content.
- Chips, Salsa and Refried Beans
These are all made from the same ingredients. So if you eat one, you will have a craving for the other and that can be something teens do not need.
- Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk can be a very good choice when you are looking for a treat that is high in calcium and other nutrients like protein, but it is still too high in sugar content.
- Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
Unlike fast food from the likes of McDonald’s, Hot dogs and burgers are a great choice because they are high in protein as well as other nutrients. But kids should keep it to one time a month or even less if possible.
- Sugar-Free Jell-O Gelatin dessert cups/ desserts
Sugar-free Jello is made with many artificial flavors, so it’s still very high in sugar content. Some sugar free Jell-O desserts have more artificial sugars and flavors than regular ones.
Popcorn is a great choice because it’s high in fiber, low in calories and fat. However, if you choose microwave popcorn over movie theater popcorn or that other homemade kind, you might be consuming more calories than you think.
- Cheese, including all types of processed cheeses, including American or cheddar-style cheese, Swiss or Muenster-style cheese, and smoked cheeses such as Havarti and Gouda
Depending on the type of cheese, it can be high in protein and fat. Some types of cheese like feta and blue are typically lower in fat but still contain a lot of calories.
Eggs should be eaten in moderation. When eaten with the proper intake of lean protein and whole grains, they are a great source of protein, low in fat and contain many other nutrients. However, this is not the case when it comes to eggs, as they are high in cholesterol and fat. It’s best to stick to the egg whites for an egg substitute (see number 11).
- White bread
White bread, in comparison to whole wheat, has fewer nutrients and is often associated with dieting.
The things you should avoid are:
The following foods are not good for your body and may cause health problems and excess weight gain.
All kinds of sugar, white flour products (including white bread) soybean oil, as well as processed vegetable oils (like corn oil), hydrogenated fats (like margarine), red meat, and to name a few.
List of Foods that help Kids Healthier
The list of foods that help kids healthier is more than food. Here are the list of healthy student food that you should buy for your kids.
Healthy Breakfast Food
As we know all children want to eat breakfast at school, and it can be hard to find good healthy foods for them, so here are some ideas for how you can make better choices. Use whole grain bread instead of white bread or toast, and make sure they get plenty of fruits (fresh or frozen). Make sure they get their omega-3’s and vitamin D from foods like eggs, fish, and yogurt.
In addition to a healthy breakfast, the school day can be long for your student. Rather than vending machine snacks, which are typically full of unhealthy fats and refined sugar, choose higher-protein options such as nuts or seeds. An apple with peanut butter or a half a sandwich (turkey or chicken) is another great lunch time option.
Whole Grain Snacks
Kids love chips, but they’re full of unhealthy oils and salt. Try whole grain crackers or popcorn instead.
Instead of soda or juice, offer your child a water bottle at lunch time. It helps them stay hydrated as well has offering them a healthy alternative to soda pop. You can also offer them sugar-free lemonade drinks or Kool-Aid which are a great way to get your kids engaged in drinking more water throughout their day.
Homemade School Lunch Ideas
Kids love to eat their mom’s food, so making their lunches can be a great way to have them get the nutrients they need. Not only does it offer a chance for you to show your child how much you love them, but it also is a chance for you to get them excited about eating healthy. Homemade school lunches are also a great way for you to save money because they’ll be better able to eat the healthy foods without throwing them away.
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Here are some ways to provide your child with healthy lunch foods.
Dried Fruit – Dried fruit is a great way to add some extra fiber and vitamins for those who don’t eat veggies. Make sure they aren’t processed or dried at high temperatures, such as in a dehydrator or in the oven at a low temperature, as this can make the nutrients be lost.
Fruit – Fruits like apples, bananas, and strawberries are a great way to get some extra vitamins into your child’s lunch.
Whole Grain Crackers – Whole grains crackers are a great source of fiber, calcium and protein. They also come in a variety of shapes for you to choose from.
Veggies – Cut up your student’s favorite veggies such as broccoli or carrots and place on their sandwich.
Whole Grain Bread – A great source of fiber and nutrients that won’t fill your child up too much for the rest of the day.
Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids
Try to teach a healthy snack idea for children as well. Here are some healthy ideas for kids snacks:
Banana – Bananas are a good source of potassium and other nutrients that can help prevent both heart and muscular diseases.
Grapes – Grapes are a great source of Vitamin C and potassium.