Too much junk on our plates

Last updated 05:00 10/10/2012
Fairfax NZ

Stuff asks some members of Generation Z to name two vegetables and tell us what they eat for dinner.

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Throwing frozen chicken nuggets in the oven counts as cooking for more than half of young New Zealanders, according to a new survey.

Four out of five Generation Z youths - those born from 1990 - don't use any fresh ingredients in their daily evening meals and 39 per cent are unable to correctly identify staple veggies such as leek or zucchini.
The new Weight Watchers survey of 1000 people, studying Kiwis' eating attitudes and food knowledge, has been released today as part of an initiative aimed at tackling obesity.
It found New Zealanders were largely sedentary, have lost touch with the importance of savouring mealtimes, and younger generations’ cooking skills were at risk.
Dr Janet Weber, from Massey University's Food Nutrition and Human Health, said there was"definitely'' an obesity problem n New Zealand as only one in three adults are at a normal or healthy weight.
She said young people go through a period of time where food is not a focus, and it could potentially lead to a problem.

"Some young people will use frozen vegetables a lot because it's convenient, and in terms of nutrition that is actually fine.”
Weber said the real issue starts when people start eating too much unhealthy processed foods.

"If they are having high fat, high sugar, high sodium with low micro-nutrients ... then that's not good."

"People are giving away the responsibility about food to the food industry, and people need to take it back.”
A lack of cooking skills may be behind people opting for ready-to-eat meals, but the cost of food and availability was also a factor, she said.
As for young peoples' ignorance of staple vegetables, Weber agreed people were becoming less food literate, but said although youths tended to eat fewer vegetables, it didn’t mean they wouldn’t add them to their plate when they reached their 30s.

"You can't see if it's a lifelong skill or if it's a temporary thing.’’

New Zealand grows some of the world's best produce, so why aren't we using it? We want Kiwis to start cooking - and eating - better. Join us on the journey.

The survey also found on an average day, 42 per cent of New Zealanders exercise, compared to 87 per cent who watch TV.

Of those that say they are obese, 40 per cent exercise less often than monthly and 90 per cent are likely to go back for seconds when eating.

New Zealanders don't pay full attention to eating dinner with 19 per cent of Generation Z youths watching TV and 18 per cent playing with their phones. Ten per cent eat alone in their bedrooms.

The survey showed breakfast isn't a priority for some New Zealanders as 16 per cent eat on the go or away from home and 22 per cent eat breakfast after 9am.

Nearly half of the Generation Z respondents - 45 per cent - say young people don't know how to cook, and 20 per cent say they are too busy doing other things.

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Award-winning chef Pete Evans, who teamed up with Weight Watchers for its Plate of our Nation initiative, said he was concerned teens would grow up and never learn to cook, creating a domino effect.

He said the campaign was launched to create debate around Kiwis' eating habits and knowledge.

“We need to start at a grass roots level – find out what the barriers are to people making the right decisions about food and cooking,” he said.

- Fairfax Media


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