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From rice to noodles: how Aussie parents’ wealth and health attitudes affect what their kids eat

Sources: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2014 – December 2014, sample n = 2,998 Australian parents of children under 16 in household.

Household wealth plays a big part in determining the healthiness of the food parents put in the pantry (and what their kids are actually eating), the latest health attitude and food consumption data from Roy Morgan Research shows.

Overall, 50% of Australian parents with children under 16 in the home say they try to buy additive-free food, up from 45% in 2010. But parents in the lowest socio-economic quintile are much less likely than those in the highest to agree. 

54% of parents in the top AB socio-economic quintile agree that “I try to buy additive-free food”, as do the majority of those in the C quintile (52%). But less than half of all other parents say they try to avoid buying food with additives: from 49% of D quintile, 47% of E, to just 40% of parents in the lowest FG quintile.

% of parents who agree “I try to buy additive-free food”

Sources: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2014 – December 2014, sample n = 2,998 Australian parents of children under 16 in household.

In the 12 months to December 2014, Roy Morgan Research also surveyed the children of many of these parents in its Young Australians Survey. In line with their parents’ attitudes, these results show some big difference in the eating habits of children depending on their household’s level of wealth.

62% of children aged 6-13 living in AB households eat rice in an average week and 55% eat salad, while less than half eat hot chips, fries or wedges (46%) or noodles (39%), and only around 1 in 4 eat chicken nuggets (24%).

But children’s eating habits change as household wealth declines. With each successive drop in socio-economic status, children in the household are less likely to eat rice or salad, and more likely to eat noodles or chicken nuggets. During an average week, less than half of kids in E or FG homes eat salad, and more eat hot chips, fries or wedges than rice.   

% of children 6-13 who eat food type in an average week

Source: Roy Morgan Young Australians Survey, January 2014 – December 2014, sample n = 2,404 Australians aged 6-13. Socio-economic status derives from parent’s participation in Roy Morgan Single Source survey.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“More than five million Australians are parents with children under 16 in the home. Our research into health attitudes shows that over the last five years an increasing proportion of parents are mindful of their own calorie, fat, dairy, and red meat intake, but are slightly less likely to be trying to limit how much sugar their kids eat.

“While the food that parents buy and give to their children is heavily influenced by the affordability of groceries, there may be many other issues at play such as the number of children (and parents) in the household, working hours, accessibility of fresh produce in the local area, as well as underlying attitudes and tastes. For example, price alone does not fully explain the inverse changes in popularity for rice and noodles among children across socio-economic quintiles.

“Our Single Source survey can connect parents’ demographics and household status with their health attitudes, grocery shopping behaviours, exercise habits and food consumption rates to deliver a 360-degree view of the changing lifestyles of Australian families.” 

For more information about Roy Morgan’s Single Source and Young Australians surveys, and our 2014 health data, please contact: 

Vaishali Nagaratnam
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%