A report has found that Irish families are purchasing an excessive amount of junk food when they do the weekly shop.


Research reveals almost one fifth (19 percent) of the average weekly family food shop is spent on highly processed ‘treat’ foods like crisps, chocolates and sweets. This compares with only 10 percent spent on fruit and 7 percent on vegetables.

The research found that on average, families with children spent €1,037 last year on treat foods. In comparison, the spend on fruit was €521 and €346 on vegetables. Among treat foods, chocolate and sweets (€228); sugary drinks (€199); biscuits (€161) and crisps (€129) accounted for almost two-thirds of the annual spend on treat foods.



The research only includes supermarket shopping trips and doesn’t account for purchases in outlets such as garage forecourts, cafes, cinemas etc.

The research was carried out to coincide with the latest phase of START, the five-year public health awareness campaign from Safefood, the HSE and Healthy Ireland.



The campaign is encouraging families to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle for their children by supporting them to start with one daily win and to persist with the changes, no matter how difficult they become.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, Safefood said “These foods which are full of empty calories are now a staple in our weekly shop. We accept them as the norm in our children’s daily diet and they are not seen as a real treat anymore. The balance is all wrong and we’re under-consuming the vital nutrients in fruit and vegetables.”




She added, “Undoubtedly this level of consumption by families is contributing to our dangerous levels of overweight, type 2 diabetes and cancer.”

Not buying treats in the weekly shop means there’s less of them to have at home. And by linking treats to real occasions like family birthdays and events helps children to understand the value of what is a treat and that it’s not an everyday thing.

To find out more about the START campaign and ways to make a healthy, positive start visit www.makeastart.ie