One in five children thinks fish fingers are made of chicken

Captain Birdseye may look and sound like a sailor, but many children appear to have him confused with a poultry farmer, after a survey revealed that nearly one in five believes fish fingers are made of chicken.

Other misconceptions include cheese coming from plants, pasta being produced by animals and fruit pastilles counting towards their five a day.

The poll of more than 5,000 children by the British Nutrition Foundation, as part of its Healthy Eating Week, found that 18 per cent of five to seven-year-olds thought fish fingers were made of chicken. Their eight to 11-year-old peers were more clued up on the subject, although 6 per cent thought the same.

Nearly a third, 29 per cent, of five to seven-year-olds asserted that cheese came from a plant while one in four eight to 11-year-olds thought the same.

Additionally, 22 per cent of the younger group and 13 per cent of the older group believed that pasta derived from animals.

Teenagers also displayed their nutritional ignorance, with 11 per cent of both 11 to 16-year-olds admitting that they thought fruit pastilles counted towards their five a day. Younger children also thought that strawberry jam was part of their daily fruit and vegetables requirement.

The findings also showed that 31 per cent of 11 to 14-year-olds and 28 per cent of 14 to 16-year-olds say that they know lots about healthy eating and had tried to follow suggested advice.

Almost half of the children surveyed said they knew about healthy eating habits but either they did not follow them or do not always follow them.

Roy Ballam, managing director and head of education at foundation, said: “Schools and families can and should successfully work together to, in turn, educate children and then motivate them in their endeavours to make healthier choices.

“Furthermore, the links between physical activity, health and diet should be frequently highlighted by the government’s programmes.”