Sunday 11 December 2016

Irish teenagers at risk of becoming Ireland's ‘take-away generation’ - report

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 17/04/2016 | 17:35

Poor eating habits is to highlight damage children's health
Poor eating habits is to highlight damage children's health
Juneau Conroy, one of Ireland's youngest chefs, celebrates Getting Ireland Cooking alongside celebrity ambassadors Bernard Brogan, David Gillick, Anna Geary, Martin Shanahan and Kevin Dundon. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

An alarming number of young people are turning to take-aways and ready meals for a quick and easy dinner, a new report has found.

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The survey, conducted by SuperValu, found that nearly three-quarters (71pc) of Irish adults under the age of 34 have a take-away at least once a week, if not more frequently.

As well as gorging on take-away meals at home, 50pc of the same age group reported eating at fast food restaurants at least once every week.

The figures reveal a significant age divide, as the number of adults eating take-aways at home once a week falls to just 42pc for those over 45, with only 20pc of them eating weekly in a fast food restaurant.

Juneau Conroy, one of Ireland's youngest chefs, celebrates Getting Ireland Cooking alongside celebrity ambassadors Bernard Brogan, David Gillick, Anna Geary, Martin Shanahan and Kevin Dundon. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Juneau Conroy, one of Ireland's youngest chefs, celebrates Getting Ireland Cooking alongside celebrity ambassadors Bernard Brogan, David Gillick, Anna Geary, Martin Shanahan and Kevin Dundon. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

The report also tackles our attitudes about home cooking, and the findings reflect a similar age divide.

Although nine out of 10 of those surveyed said they preferred cooking from scratch, less than 40pc of people under 34 actually manage to do so.

In contrast, close to 60pc of adults over the age of 45 cook from scratch at least six times per week.

While 93pc of people believe cooking from scratch is healthier, and 91pc said they feel it gives them greater control over what they eat, there are still a number of factors standing in their way.

Juneau Conroy, one of Ireland's youngest chef, with The Happy Pear twins David and Stephen Flynn. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Juneau Conroy, one of Ireland's youngest chef, with The Happy Pear twins David and Stephen Flynn. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Juneau Conroy, one of Ireland's youngest chef, celebrates Getting Ireland Cooking alongside celebrity ambassadors Kevin Dundon and Martin Shanahan. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Celebrity ambassadors Bernard Brogan, David Gillick, Anna Geary, Martin Shanahan and Kevin Dundon are pictured with Sharon Hearne Smith, The Happy Pear, Daniel Davey and Inspiring Foodies Conor Bereen, Duncan Maguire, Federico Riezzo and Ciaran McGonagle. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Celebrity ambassadors Kevin Dundon, Martin Shanahan, Bernard Brogan, David Gillick and Anna Geary with Sharon Hearne Smith, The Happy Pear, Daniel Davey and Inspiring Foodies Conor Bereen, Duncan Maguire, Federico Riezzo and Ciaran McGonagle. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Juneau Conroy, one of Ireland's youngest chefs, celebrates Getting Ireland Cooking alongside celebrity ambassadors Bernard Brogan, David Gillick, Anna Geary, Martin Shanahan and Kevin Dundon. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

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Some 37pc of people under 34 reported that they don’t cook from scratch out of pure laziness, with 31pc citing lack of inspiration and 16pc who don’t know how.

However, while they may be short on time during the week, eight in ten of those under 34 said they cook meals in bulk on the weekends to leave in the freezer for weekday dinners.

Cooking skills may be a particular problem for the younger generation, but the findings suggest the situation may grow even worse, as only 10pc of parents involve their children in cooking at home.

Dr Mary McCreery, consultant dietitian nutritionist at the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin, called this figure “surprising”

“It is critical for our children, teenagers and young adults to have the cooking skills and an ability to plan and eat healthy balanced meals and get accurate information around what actually constitutes a healthy meal – as many misconceptions still exist,” she said.

As for what we consider a healthy meal, the survey found young people aged 18-24 believe smoothies and cereal bars constitute a healthy breakfast, while those over 55 named tea and toast as the healthiest start to the day.

When it comes to sit-down dinners, two thirds of Irish adults still aim to enjoy a meal together every week, with the Sunday roast remaining the preferred weekly get-together for 2 in 5 of those surveyed.

Dr McCreery advised those concerned about lack of time or skills to “keep it simple”.

“It doesn’t need to be a three course meal. Opt instead for a healthy main meal and fruit-based dessert - like stewed plums and poached pears - to get a healthy nutritious dinner that tastes really good at the same time.”

Following the release of the report, SuperValu has launched the Good Food Karma Project which aims to help Ireland get healthier by cooking more meals from scratch.

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