Eating a bit of chocolate and watching telly makes children happier than getting their daily quota of greens and doing jigsaws with their mums, according to a new government-funded study.
Children allowed to eat the occasional sweet and watch Cartoon Network are in general more satisfied with their lives than children who are brought up to consider an extra carrot stick a treat and TV as the root of all evil.
The study, funded by the Department of Health, found that the children of smug parents who look down on those parents with a flatscreen in the living room and boast about having no television set in their sustainably designed eco-hobbit home generally score lower for “well-being” than their square-eyed counterparts who have occasional access to chocolate buttons.
A major Government-funded study of the factors which improve children’s happiness and reduce worry found that self-satisfied parents who serve their children with needlessly expensive organic purple sprouting broccoli, samphire or celeriac sourced from the local farmer’s market (in season only) at every meal are actually creating a life of dissatisfaction and ennui for their offspring, making them slightly less happy overall, although it does score smugness points in chats with lesser parents at the school gates.
The report, compiled from data gathered from almost 13,000 seven-year-old children, also found evidence that those who have feckless parents who sometimes give them "unhealthy" treats such as sweets or access to a television, enjoy happier and more fulfilling childhoods than those who are expected to engage in regular craft activities or stare out of the window after school thinking about ice cream.
“My friend Matthew hasn’t even got a telly and he’s fed-up all the time,” said Tom, seven. “And his mum puts boiled eggs and asparagus in his lunchbox.”
The study also found that lots of children like running around and jumping, finding that those who like PE are happier in general. Incredibly, this also includes children who sometimes like sitting on the sofa and watching Adventure Time while eating popcorn.
The study, carried out by analysts at NatCen Social Research and funded by the Department of Health, concluded that deprivation, an unhappy family life and problems at school were more likely to make children feel unhappy or worried than a biscuit and a bit of telly.
Jenny Chanfreau said that it cannot be claimed that eating greens will make children happier overall. “This is not to say that eating healthily isn’t good for you," she said. "It is just not linked with happiness as reported by seven year-olds.”
The report found that moderation, rather than complete prohibition of enjoyable things, was linked with higher general well-being in seven-year-olds.
“Being happier and lacking worry does not mean never having sweets, snacks and television," the report concluded.