Diet and Nutrition in Children


• 13% of children aged 9-10 report having no breakfast or just a drink
• 30% of children aged 13-14 consume fizzy drinks or energy drinks on most days
• 47% of children aged 16-17 consume fruit/veg on most days

The Population

Diet and nutrition in children has a significant not only on growth and development, but also long term physical and oral health. Poor diet and nutrition is linked to obesity, tooth decay, heart disease and diabetes and is determined by a balanced nutrient and energy intake. A typical balanced diet should be low in salt, sugar, and fats; and higher in protein, fruit and vegetables, and carbohydrates. Factors such as food and drink access and availability, price of food and drink, technology and family behaviours all have a significant impact on diet and nutrition in children.
A child’s growth rate is partly determined by diet and nutrition in the womb and infancy and this can have lasting effects into childhood and beyond. There is strong evidence to suggest that low birth weight is associated with increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, and that breast-fed babies show a reduced risk of obesity. This is partly explained by the fact breast-fed babies show slower growth rates than formula fed babies. For information relating to breastfeeding, visit the maternal behaviours page.

Looking at Things Locally

There is significant evidence of poor diet in Wakefield district. According to data from the Childrens Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire (HRBQ), more than 10% of children aged 9-10 in Wakefield reported that they have no more than a drink for breakfast, which has increased since 2013. The HRBQ results also suggest that 20% of 9-10 year olds consume fizzy drinks ‘on most days’. This rises to 30% among 13-14 year olds. However, there is evidence to suggest that this has decreased significantly since 2013.

The accessibility of fast food outlets can have an impact on childhood diet; in Wakefield there are on average 1.4 takeaways per 1,000 residents. In Wakefield North, this rises to 3.8 per 1,000 residents and 3.5 takeaways per 1,000 residents in Castleford. The wards with the two lowest densities of fast food outlets are Pontefract South (0.33 takeaways per 1,000 people) and Airedale and Ferry Fryston (0.47)


The Inequality

13% of children aged 9-10 in Wakefield have no more than a drink for breakfast, which rises to around 20% when looking at children from the most deprived areas. When looking at specific areas, there is evidence to suggest difference in diet and geographic area. Just over half (55%) of children report that they eat fruit and veg on most days in Castleford, compared to 67% in those that live in the North-West area of Wakefield District.

There is also a gender difference in eating habits, with girls generally reporting healthier eating habits than boys. 68% of 9-10 year old girls reported eating fruit/veg on most days, compared to 56% of boys. Fewer girls also reported drinking fizzy drinks on most days (18% compared to 22% of boys) and fewer girls had no breakfast (12% compared to 14% of boys).
Children with special needs also reported consuming more fizzy drinks than their peers (29% compared to 20%) and a larger proportion had no breakfast (20% compared to 13%).

Service Provision

Change4life – NHS campaign supporting families to make healthy food choices.
Change4life Schools –  This initiative support schools to improve healthy food choices and the eating experience within the school environment. Resources available here

Other Resources

Read more on the HRBQ here
Wakefield Council’s website has a variety of information on good diet and nutrition
SafeFood EU tackling obesity report
Download the Diet and Nutrition in Children infographic