As it enters the second phase of its Food4Thought awareness campaign the British Heart Foundation (BHF) today (22 September) revealed that it is going to battle the high levels of crisp consumption in the UK with a hard-hitting national advertising campaign.

Half of the UK’s kids are consuming nearly five litres of cooking oil each year by eating a packet of crisps each day, while one-in-five double-up by eating two-packs a day, the BHF revealed. According to the latest data at Mintel, UK consumers eat a tonne of crisps every three minutes.

Television advertising supporting the campaign will feature a young girl drinking from a bottle of cooking oil with the caption ‘What goes into crisps goes into you’.

Teaching resources in the shape of over-sized burger boxes will also be sent to 2,500 schools across the UK.

BHF Medical Director Professor Peter Weissberg said: “The BHF believes having a daily dose of such a high-fat, nutritionally poor product is a threat to children’s long-term health. Daily unhealthy snacking is a worrying habit.

Rising rates of childhood obesity and cases of type two diabetes paint a particularly grim picture for the future. This campaign is about challenging our children about what’s lurking in their snacks, takeaways and ready meals. It’s about making these foods the exception rather than the rule.”

The BHF is also targeting other unhealthy habits that it has found shape the diets of British children. According to the foundation, almost three quarters of parents feed their children ready meals or takeaways more than three times a week, while only 13% of boys and 12% of girls reported eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, and 10% reported eating no portions of fruit or vegetables in the previous day.

“I am concerned we are a nation drowning in excess oil, salt and sugar as we and our children continue to ignore the warnings and consume excessive amounts of unhealthy foods. Crisps are just the tip of the iceberg. If you consider all the other unhealthy foods our kids are consuming the fat just continues to pile up. The BHF wants to expose the truth lurking within these foods and to help children and parents make healthier choices,” Weissberg added.

The BHF Food4Thought campaign is also calling for art a total ban on the marketing of junk food to children and cooking skills to be a compulsory part of schooling across the UK.

The food industry has met the campaign with obvious reservations. Julian Hunt, communications director of the Food and Drink Federation said: “We welcome anything that raises the debate about diet, but scare tactics are a waste of time.”