Kiwi kids’ consumption of fast food and fizzy drinks

Over 60,000 Kiwi kids are eating fast food at least three times per week. Are we losing the importance of a good, healthy, home-cooked meal?

The New Zealand Health Survey carried out annually by the Ministry of Health revealed in their most recent report that 62,000 New Zealand children aged between 2 and 14 years old ate fast food at least three times in the week prior to the survey. The increase in New Zealand’s population is not a factor in the rise, with the percentage of kids consuming fast food this regularly jumping from 5.7% in 2015 to 8.2% in 2017 for boys, and from 6.2% in 2015 to 7.5% in 2017 for girls.

fast food

The number of kids who are eating fast food at least once per week is 70.7% of girls and 74.9% of boys.

fast food

Friday night takeaways

Is fish and chips on a Friday night a tradition for your family, like many other Kiwi homes? While we know it’s not good for us, the occasional fried food is not going to tip the scales (if you pardon the pun), from what is basically a healthy diet into an obesity-inducing one. The problem is that, as these figures show, a large proportion of our kids are no longer eating fast food or takeaways as an occasional treat. Our fast food fascination is gaining momentum and the regularily at which we are consuming these ‘treat’ foods is an issue.

It may sound like a cliche, but when parents today were kids fast food was a once-in-a-while treat, if we had it at all. I can remember the one and only time I got KFC as a kid. I remember my first trip to Pizza Hutt and my first taste of McDonalds. Now it seems that kids view a trip to the local fast food joint as nothing out of the ordinary.

It also needs to be pointed out that ‘fast food’ doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy food. There is no clarification of what fast foods were eaten by the survey respondents and with the growth of food options that are available to us now, it is possible to enjoy healthy food that’s fast (sushi anyone?).

The good news?

There is some encouraging news though. The number of kids who are drinking fizzy drink at least three times per week is slowly dropping, despite a rise in our population. The number has fallen from 149,000 in 2012 to 130,000 in 2017. So it seems that the ‘water is best’ message is getting through. Or maybe they’re just drinking something else just as unhealthy instead …


The percentage of kids drinking fizzy drinks at least once per week is 52.2% of girls and 60.2% of boys. Since 2012, the number of kids drinking fizzy drinks at least once per week has dropped by 40,000.


Why do you think kids today are eating more fast food? Join the discussion in the comments below.

This article was written by Julie Scanlon, Editor for Kidspot NZ. Statistical information and graph images are courtesy of Figure.NZ.

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  1. SarahBlair 06/01/2019 at 10:22 pm

    My kids rarely eat junk food but we have been on holiday this past week and their consumption of fast food has skyrocketed! It’s so easy to drive down the road and get a hot, ready cooked, meal when your cooking facilities are lacking, now that we are home I will be cooking all of our meals for a while now to make up for it!!

  2. dawnblyth 06/01/2019 at 10:09 pm

    I think a lot comes down to the fact people don’t knowhow to make a meal from scratch anymore. The other big key factor is the business of peoples lives.

  3. Shelz69 06/01/2019 at 12:46 pm

    I do wonder if the increase is related to the increase in busyness for the kids. When I grew up kids came home from school and played. Between my two children we have sports every night except weekends, and they only play one sport. Many kids have more than one sport. So by the time I get home from work, pick up kids, go to sports and then head home it is often past dinner time. So yes sometimes, I will get takeaways, I do feel guilty at times about it, but we need to eat and I’m exhausted usually. There is no Dad around to help cook the meals or do any of the pick ups so Its a one woman show and at times it is exhausting. I did use to spend my Sundays cooking for the week but found it time consuming and boring spending my one day off a week in the kitchen. I do make sure that snacks at our house are vegetables and we do not drink soda at all.

  4. Alezandra 05/01/2019 at 10:16 pm

    Key words “fast” and “cheap” and not even necessarily delicious. I am guilt of doing fast food funs on those lazy days and nights. This is such an eye opener. I always say to do meal planning for the week but never do. Maybe this will be the wake up call.

  5. Shorrty4life1 03/01/2019 at 5:05 pm

    Wowee takeaways 3 times a week. Wow that’s interesting lot of statistics right there. That’s insane. Got to love a nice home cooked meal but at the same time takeaways are nice for a break from cooking every now and again.

  6. felicity beets 31/12/2018 at 6:30 pm

    Fastfood seems so much more accessible than when I was a child. It is one positive about living so rural – it is so much harder to get takeaways.

  7. kymmage 31/12/2018 at 1:16 pm

    We have fast food maybe 2 times a week. More if there are lots of after school activity on. Like, I can’t get home from work any sooner to cook a meal and then get the kids to something less than 20 mins later so mcdees it is. If I have school meetings or something then it’s KFC or pizza. We try not to get hang up on it. They are active kids.

  8. Mands1980 20/12/2018 at 8:47 pm

    These seem crazy statistics we live rural so can’t just pop out and get takeaways all the time we try eat a healthy meal at least 6 nights a week at home and maybe get takeaway 1 a week or every 2nd week so not very often as it’s expensive for a family of 5 to buy. We also try avoid fizzy drinks none of the kids have any fillings yet which is great.

  9. MuddledUpMolly 19/12/2018 at 4:47 pm

    Where do they get these statistics from?? I hope it is from a broad range of Kiwi households as we in no way would ever eat this many takeaways, in a month even, let alone a week! It is a very sad statistic and very frightening to think of the worrying state our health system is already in.

  10. Bevik1971 19/12/2018 at 1:04 pm

    I can admit that our 6 year old daughter hardly ever eats junk food – she had a store bought donut last week for the first time ever. We have never really let her eat fast food, sugary foods and definitely fizzy drinks as they are bad for her and can set children up for negative issues as they grow older. We don’t not give her treats, but they are just not often and my hubby will make her a hamburger or pizza at home with our own healthier ingredients so we know what’s in it. We also explain to her that we don’t give her that type of food often as we care about her, not simply because we just don’t want her eating it. She understands too and doesn’t often ask for those kinds of foods which is great 🙂

  11. Micht 18/12/2018 at 7:48 pm

    We have been guilty of this sometimes when we are all tired and i couldn’t cook… and we did start to notice a sluggish effect…. and that it really hit the wallet bad… fizzy drinks we dont buy much so their barely have it anyways…

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