Irish nutritionists said yesterday (13 September) that the country’s children are still eating too much junk food such as confectionery and soft drinks.

Snack manufacturers are responding to calls to lower the fat, salt and sugar content of their products aimed at children and curtailing their advertising efforts. Nevertheless, Margot Brennan of the Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute (INDI) said “Studies show that children are getting 20% of their daily intake (for calories) from poor nutrition foods that offer little other than calories, fat and sugar but no important nutrients.”

Brennan expressed concern that if a fifth of children’s calories are coming from junk food, children are missing out on foods with important nutrients such as calcium, iron and protein.

According to a report in the Irish Examiner, the Snack Food Council responded to the INDI’s claim by stating that average sodium levels in crisps had been cut by 20% since the 1990s. Nevertheless, this still leaves crisps in the high-salt bracket, as they contain more than 1.25g of salt per 100g.

While industry contends that such foods are intended to be consumed as an occasional treat, in reality many children reach for them on a daily basis. Brennan called for television advertisements for junk food to be banned from 9 o’clock at night.