Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to School Lunch Trends

August 2011--We hit a hot topic in this issue of Allrecipes’ Measuring Cup Consumer Trends Report! With all the media attention on kids’ diets and back-to-school activity revving up, how is this affecting consumer activities when preparing brown bag lunches for their kids? Key findings from Allrecipes’ 2011 Back to School Consumer Survey follow.

1 – Parents care about what their kids eat—a lot. Both this year and last, more than half of home cooks were “extremely” or “very much” concerned about their children’s diet. But parents may also be making changes; the number of parents “not at all” concerned about their children’s diets rose 233% this year over last—perhaps because they’ve already cut out the chips and soda?

How concerned are you with your child or children's diet?

2 – When an adult struggles with weight issues, they are more apt to be “very much” or “extremely” concerned about their children’s diet: 57% compared with 39% of adults who do not have weight issues.

3 – Who brings the junk food kids eat into the house? Parents. And they know it. 91% said they were the ‘bad guys’ responsible for their children’s unhealthy diet. 91% also say ‘couch potato kids’ who don’t get regular exercise adds to childhood obesity. Bottom line, everyone’s a culprit: 62% of consumers blame food manufacturers’ advertising, and 57% also blame the media for promoting ‘bad foods.’

4 – If an adult in the household is struggling with weight issues, the picture changes for who is contributing to issues related to childhood obesity. When adult weight is an issue, 59% say “the media, for promoting bad food choices” is responsible. In households where adults don’t have weight issues, this percentage drops to 48%.

5 – Who can make a positive change in the fight against childhood obesity? The answer also differs if adults are struggling with weight issues. Close to 100% recognize their role as parents. After this, two-thirds to half, consider schools, the media, the government, and food marketers as the biggest influencers. Households where adults do not have weight issues identify the same influencers for childhood obesity, but at rates 10% to 15% lower than where adults do have weight issues.

6 – Taking a sack lunch to school is not just about saving money. 28% of consumers say it’s about health—and 21% want to know exactly how many carrot sticks their child has munched. Perhaps surprisingly, “saving money” ties for third place.

7 – Kids know what they like. 47% of parents say they pack lunches based on their child’s feedback and requests, and for 40%, making lunch is a shared task.

8 – No, to soda, yes to apples and oranges. Half of respondents say finding a variety of healthy foods their child will actually eat is the main challenge to preparing a healthy lunch, and nearly all (84%) say they’re packing more fresh fruits and vegetables.

9 - Adult weight struggles also appear to affect preparing healthy lunches for kids. 55% of adults who have personal weight issues say the cost of healthy foods is their biggest challenge, while only 42% of adults without weight issues see cost as a challenge. A larger percentage of adults with weight issues also say healthy food costs more.

10 – Teach ‘em! 43% of parents say teaching kids about nutrition will help them eat healthier meals. Another 26% recommend buying fewer snacks. Only 16% look to the school cafeteria for a solution.


What kid doesn’t adore chicken noodle soup, kabobs, and chili? A look at the Top 10 healthy, kid-friendly recipes determined by year-to-date page views includes dishes with diverse flavors as well as comfort food favorites.

1 Fluffy French Toast
2 Simple Turkey Chili
3 The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World
4 Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup
5 Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
6 Easy Red Beans and Rice
7 Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs
8 Extra Easy Hummus
9 Laura's Quick Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
10 Asian Chicken Salad

Special thanks to PBS Kids for their assistance with this research.

About Allrecipes.com
Allrecipes, the world's largest digital food brand, receives 535 million annual visits from home cooks who discover and share food experiences through recipes, reviews, photos, profiles, and blog posts. For 14 years, the Seattle-based site has served as a dynamic, indispensable resource for cooks of all skill levels seeking everyday and holiday meal solutions, plus practical cooking information. Allrecipes’ global, multiplatform brand provides insights into the kitchens and cooking passions of home cooks everywhere with 17 websites, 9 mobile apps, and 13 eBooks serving cooks in 23 countries and 11 languages. Allrecipes is part of Lifestyle Communities @ RDA, a division of The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. For additional information regarding Allrecipes, please visit www.allrecipes.com.


I love the proactive approach this blog takes. I am currently in a Social Work/Family Studies course at the University I attend, and am using this blog as a source for my research paper. Not only did you identify the problem, but unlike many sources this blog has identified approaches to help minimize the issue. I found it very useful and learned more facts about childhood obesity. I was wrongfully under the impression that schools played a huge role in childhood obesity, only to find that the parents matter by almost double. Thanks again for such a useful blog!