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Teens Spend Nearly 1,000 Hours Thinking About Food, Study Finds

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Hungry American teenagers spend nearly 1,000 hours thinking about food throughout their teenage years, according to new research commissioned by Farm Rich.

A new study of 2,000 families with teens found the average 13- to 19-year-old spends almost 135 hours a year thinking about food and what the next nosh will be.

When magnified over seven years for the typical teenage life-span, young Americans will rack up 945 hours, or 39 solid days, with food on the brain.

Survey Key Findings:
•Teens devote 39 full days to thinking about food during the ages 13-19
•Facebook is the biggest online source of food inspiration for teens, followed by YouTube
•Teen palates are getting more sophisticated
•The typical teen expresses dissatisfaction with a meal four times a month
•The favorite meal among teens is dinner
•30 percent of grocery bill is driven by teens
•Teens snack 2-3 times per day

The research commissioned by Farm Rich, one of the nation’s leading frozen snack and appetizer brands, and conducted by OnePoll, found young people are becoming more passionate and vocal about food, and are often interested in family meal planning and routines. In fact, parents indicated that 30 percent of the weekly grocery bill is driven by teens’ preferences and eating behaviors.

Where is this interest in food coming from? As many as 46 percent of teens included in the study said they watch cooking shows to gain food inspiration, and 7 in 10 said their parents are the biggest source of their food knowledge.

And it’s more than just a case of putting hunger at bay – 72 percent say food is something to enjoy through great taste and flavors, and as many as 1/5 use cooking as a way to release their creativity.
That might be why you can find beautiful food images and recipe ideas when scrolling through teen’s social media pages with Facebook (27 percent) the biggest online source of food inspiration for teens, followed by YouTube (21 percent).

So are teens the new foodies? A quarter of teens admit to being experimental and adventurous in the kitchen and willing to try unique and different foods.

The research also found that food-obsessed teens are not only thinking about food but are very vocal about their food preferences too – 45 percent of moms and dads said their child will weigh in often on what the meal time menu should look like. “The wealth of information available today at our teens’ fingertips has led this generation to be more knowledgeable and inspired about food than ever before,” says Shannon Gilreath, Farm Rich Director of Marketing. “Our research shows that over 90 percent of teens do actually enjoy family mealtime, which is a great opportunity for parents to engage with them even more when it comes to food choices and time spent together.”

Parents still have their work cut out for them in catering to teenage palates, with over half (52 percent) of teenagers polled claiming meals served by their parents don’t always suit their tastes or dietary lifestyle.
Teenagers turn their noses up at the meals served at home four times a month on average (48 times per year). Perhaps it’s no surprise then that when it comes to choosing food for the family, parents state ‘meals I know my family will eat’ as the single most important factor.

And it seems adults aren’t the only ones trying popular diets and eliminating certain foods to live a healthier lifestyle. More than a quarter of teens (28 percent) have expressed interest in trying a new diet and of those, most are interested in low-carb (38 percent), low-fat (35 percent) and vegetarian (32 percent) eating plans.

And these young people often move the goalposts – 28 percent have completely changed their diet, asking parents to switch up the menu, according to results.

Despite their changing diets and preferences, teenagers still enjoy time with the family and regularly reach for snacks in between meals. More than 90 percent enjoy sitting down to a family meal with their favorite meal of the day being dinner (65 percent). On average, teens snack 2-3 times per day with the most consumed munchies including chips, fruit, pizza and frozen snacks.

Parents are encouraging their kids to help with meal planning by involving them in the grocery shopping process, asking them to pick out ingredients, and also by giving them a role in planning and preparation. Many will ask teens to help chop veggies and if there are any dinner requests from teens, parents will ask them to help prepare that dish.

In fact, the average teen helps out in the kitchen three times a week, assisting Mom or Dad prepare the family meal.

“The parent-teen relationship will always have its challenges but involving teens in the process of meal planning and prep is a simple way to let them know they’re being heard. Enjoying good food is a language we all speak, and it goes a long way in bonding families together, even during those tumultuous teenage years,” Gilreath adds.

TOP 5 SNACK FOODS FOR TEENSTOP 5 SNACK FOODS FOR TEENS
1. Chips
2. Fruit
3. Pizza
4. Frozen snacks
5. Yogurt

TOP 5 MEALS REQUESTED BY TEENS
1. Pizza
2. Tacos
3. Pasta
4. Fried chicken
5. Steak

TOP 5 SOCIAL MEDIA FOR TEEN FOOD INSPIRATION
1. Facebook
2. YouTube
3. Instagram
4. Snapchat
5. Pinterest

TOP 5 NON-SOCIAL MEDIA TEEN FOOD INSPIRATION
1. Parents
2. TV cooking shows/TV shows
3. Friends
4. Commercials
5. Celebrities and influencers

TOP 5 FACTORS PARENTS CONSIDER WHEN PREPARING MEALS
1. Meals they know the family will eat
2. Health
3. Budget
4. Time spent preparing/cooking
5. Ingredients

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