Businesses and Government: It's Time To Step Up!

Breaking news: Bite Back’s latest research shows the majority of young people across the UK want the Government & businesses to step up to improve our health.

A group of young people standing in a grassy field holding protest signs and cheering

As youth activists, we’re all about taking the voices and stories of our generation directly to decision makers. We’ve made so much noise since we started in 2019, that people in power now come to us looking for insight into young people’s lived experience of the food system. One question we get a lot is how many young people really care about the food environment around it. Short answer: loads!

Since our launch in 2019, Bite Back has run multiple surveys of representative samples of young people from across the UK and the results show loud and clear: the majority of young people want to see action!

Earlier this year, we commissioned Savanta to run a survey of 1,062 young people aged 13-18 (1). The results show there is strong support for Government action to improve health among young people.

  • 82% support extending free school meals to all children from families living in poverty.
  • 83% support making healthier food more available and affordable in the places where they hang out.
  • 59% support reducing the number of fast food outlets on high streets and adding more spaces to be healthy and active.
  • 64% support ending junk food advertising on TV; 61% support ending it online; and 53% support ending it on public transport and in the street.
  • 66% support requiring food manufacturers to reduce sugar and salt from everyday foods.

This was echoed in a second Savanta survey of 587 young people aged 14-21 (2):

  • 77% agree that the health of people in the UK is being affected by the amount of unhealthy food and drink available.
  • 73% agree that big food companies target children and teenagers with junk food advertising.
  • 75% agree that the Government should do more to protect children’s health by placing new rules on big food companies.
  • 75% agree that big food companies should show leadership by making and marketing healthy, sustainable and affordable foods.

Our food system prioritises the profits of big corporations over our health and wellbeing. In the midst of an economic crisis, healthy eating has become financially unattainable for many of us. Junk food giants have us surrounded, and they need to take accountability for their role in the child health epidemic.

Mia

Youth Board Member

We also want the food and drink industry to step up. Young people are not just customers of the future, we are customers of food businesses now — from a snack to sustain us through football practice, to a meal on our local high street, having food is often a social, shared experience (1).

  • Three quarters (73%) of 13-18-year-olds buy from a supermarket at least once a week. A bigger grocery shop, fresh fruit and a meal deal are the top three purchases.
  • Almost half of 13-18-year-olds (48%) buy from a delivery platform at least a few times a month. Pizza, burger and salad are the top three purchases. 46% make the purchase themselves on their own delivery app and 19% make it themselves on their parent/guardian’s app. 28% of 13-15 and 48% of 16-18-year-olds have the UberEats app.
  • 57% of 13-15-year-olds buy from a fast food restaurant at least a few times a month. A burger, fried chicken and pizza are the top purchases.
  • Two thirds (68%) of 13-15-year-olds have at least one food and drink app installed on their device. Almost half (45%) of 13-15-year-olds have the McDonald’s app installed on their device, and a quarter (24%) have the KFC app.
  • 40% of 13-18-year-olds buy from a coffee shop at least a few times a month. Coffee is by far the top purchase.

Young people want industry to make it easier to eat healthily. We are surrounded by junk food. From the moment we’re born, every second of every day, we’re targeted. So we’re biting back and demanding higher standards (1).

  • 84% said they would buy healthier options if food and drink companies made them cheaper than unhealthy options.
  • 83% said they would buy healthier options if food and drink companies made them tastier than unhealthy options.
  • 77% said they would buy healthier options if food and drink companies made them more available than unhealthy options.

Price and convenience are important — I don't want to spend ages searching for something and at the moment the unhealthy options are most accessible. I definitely think the more unhealthy products are targeted at younger people — healthy options seem to be more ‘posh’ or for vegetarians and not for teens going for a quick snack.

Alice

Youth Board Member

With nearly 1 in 3 children at future risk of developing food-related ill health, we want the Government and food and drink industry to step up and make it easier for us to eat healthily.


You’re very welcome to use our data! Please reference each survey if you do:

  • (1) Savanta / Bite Back, June 2023, 1,062 young people aged 13-18
  • (2) Savanta / Bite Back, September 2023, 587 young people aged 14-21

If you have any questions about the data, contact nika.pajda@biteback.com