Over a third of parents admit they give in to their child’s demands for junk food because they want ‘an easy life’, a study revealed today.
An exhausted 35 per cent of mums and dads would rather let their kids tuck into a sugary treat than risk a full-blown argument.
The report of 2000 parents also found around one in ten find it ‘hard to keep an eye’ on their children and prevent them from nabbing food from the cupboard.
A spokeswoman for Soreen, which commissioned the study, said: “Junk food is so readily available to kids these days, which can mean snacks high in sugar and salt is all they ask for.
“When you’re at your wits end, it’s so tempting to just let them have what they want – especially when it can quickly prevent an argument.
“But it’s essential that parents know there are alternatives.
“Offering them something healthier but still tasty, to curb their hunger, can nip bad eating habits in the bud.”
The study also found the school bell signals most children’s demand for treats with the majority of parents ranking ‘straight after school’ as their kids’ prime snack time.
But the peace doesn’t last long as one in five said they often find their children searching for food again just before dinner.
Half of parents said their children will always pester them for junk food in between meals, usually craving crisps, biscuits and chocolate.
And not content with being offered fruit or a similar alternative, one in five will throw a tantrum if they aren’t given what they want, the study revealed.
Other defeated parents said that following a tug-of-war argument over what they can eat, their kids will even sneak junk food out of cupboards behind the back of mum and dad.
Considering the daily stresses of life, many argued that they don’t want to be too strict when it comes to food and having run out of ideas, they found it was easier to give in.
And though weary mums and dads admitted they felt guilt when giving in to their kids’ demands, three in ten said they didn’t want to force them to eat something they don’t like.
Priorities were slightly different for one in ten parents who said they were often too preoccupied with work or household chores to have time to be firm on their kids’ eating habits.
Conversely a similar figure admitted they’d even resorted to bribery just to wean the little ones off sugary treats.
‘I’m hungry’ is a constantly repeated phrase for 30 per cent of parents who said hunger was their kids’ excuse for raiding the treat cupboard.
Tiredness was named as another main reason, with one in five claiming their kids wanted a snack to boost their mood when they’re returned home grumpy from their day at school.
But it seems having fun doesn’t stunt the cravings either, as the same amount of parents said their kids ask for more junk food when they have a friend round to play.
For 25 per cent of mums and dads, their child asking for treats is just a regular habit.
And adverts take the blame for one in ten parents who said their kids begin demanding certain snacks when they’ve seen them on TV.
The spokeswoman from Soreen added: “Kids can often be stubborn in that they deliberately won’t eat fruit if they know there are treats available.
“We understand it’s hard to come up with inspiration when stocking the cupboards and packing lunchboxes for the new school term.
“Keeping it varied as well as nutritious can be a challenge – and the research shows that two thirds of mums want to feel they are being more imaginative.
“Trying out a compromise such as a malt lunchbox loaf, dried fruit or nuts would be a better option than crisps or chocolate – and would keep them fuller for longer.”