Media releases

March 10, 2016


New research shows nearly half of Australian parents are concerned their child is unable to make healthy food choices, and 3 in 5 are concerned that their child prefers processed food.

The survey, conducted by Medibank and the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, confirms the need for more to be done to improve the knowledge and confidence among Australian children to grow and cook fresh and healthy food.

“With one in four Australian children obese or overweight1, it’s vital that we teach our children to eat well and to be active,” Medibank Chief Medical Officer, Dr Linda Swan, said.

“This survey shows that we still have a long way to go to support our children to make healthy food choices for their future.”

More than 1,000 Australian primary school children (aged 5 to 12) and their parents participated in the survey, which included questions based on what’s taught through the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program.

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program is currently delivered in more than 800 primary schools, reaching over 100,000 students across Australia.

The survey found:

  • Only 22% of children correctly answered all questions about common fresh food sources
    • One in four didn’t know that butter comes from cow’s milk
    • Not all children know that apples and bananas are grown on trees; that potatoes are grown underground; or that tomatoes are grown on vines
    • Only 2 in 5 children know that summer/autumn is when tomatoes are ripe for picking
  • 24% of primary school aged children do not eat dinner around the table with their family regularly (i.e. 2-4 days per week, or less often)
    • Children who eat dinner around the table with their family at least once a week have better knowledge about where food comes from and how it is grown
  • Three in five parents don’t believe their child would know how to bake a potato, and more than two in five don’t believe their child could boil an egg
    • Boys are less likely to know how to cook rice on the stove, how to bake a potato, or how to boil an egg
    • Children who knew more about how food is grown and where food comes from were more likely to know how to boil an egg, bake a potato, and cook rice on the stove.
  • More children in Victoria were able to correctly answer all questions about where food comes from and how food is grown, while children in South Australia and Western Australia were least able to correctly answer all questions.

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, of which Medibank is the Principal Partner, supports schools and learning centres to teach children how to grow, harvest, prepare, and share fresh, seasonal, delicious food through a fun, engaging, and hands-on food education program.

The Foundation’s CEO, Ange Barry, says the program helps children form positive food habits at a young age that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.

“By experiencing the joy of digging in the garden, picking fresh veggies, smelling and tasting the food they prepare, children can learn not just about how important fresh food is for their overall health and wellbeing, but also that it’s fun and delicious,” Ms Barry said.

The survey revealed that children who are involved in helping to grow fruits and vegetables and assist with grocery shopping and preparing meals at home, knew more about where food comes from and how it is grown.

The survey found:

  • Only 50% of children are involved in growing fruit and vegetables at home
  • A third of children always or often help their parents with the grocery shopping
    • Children who help their parents with grocery shopping, no matter how infrequently, are more likely to know where food comes from and how it’s grown, compared to those who never help with the shopping
  • Around 85% of primary schoolers help prepare meals at home, with half helping at least once a week
    • Girls are more likely to help prepare meals at home at least once a week

Medibank has supported the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation since 2012, as part of its commitment to growing healthy kids.

“As recently highlighted by the World Health Organisation, governments, businesses and the community need to work together to address the rising trend of children becoming overweight and obese,” Dr Swan said.

“Medibank is proud to support and actively work with the Foundation and this program to help Australian children learn and adopt lifelong healthy habits.”


- ENDS -


1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

2 World Health Organisation – Report by the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity 


About the Survey:

The survey was conducted in February 2016, of 1033 Australian parents aged over 18, and their children, aged 5 to 12 years. Participants were based in all states and territories, in both capital cities and non-capital city areas.


About Medibank:

Medibank Private Limited is Australia’s leading private health insurer, with close to 40 years of experience delivering better health to all Australians. We look after the unique and individual health cover needs of 3.9 million members through our Medibank and ahm brands and deliver a wide range of programs to support health and wellbeing in the community. Members can access our products and services via an extensive retail, online or telephone network. We also deliver a range of complementary services including health management for government and other clients, and distribute travel, life and pet insurance. We are a strong advocate for a sustainable private health system that delivers value, transparency and affordability. Medibank Private Limited was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2014 and is headquartered in Melbourne. For more information, visit


About the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation:

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation is a not-for-profit charity that provides educational resources, training, support and inspiration to deliver pleasurable food education to Australian children. The Foundation was established by Stephanie Alexander AO in 2004, in response to the overwhelming interest in and success of the first Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program at Collingwood College, Melbourne, from 2001. The Kitchen Garden Program is now delivered in over 800 primary schools across Australia, teaching around 100,000 students every year the joys of growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh, seasonal, delicious food. This pleasurable food education model aims to foster children’s positive relationships with food, as well as use the garden and kitchen as learning and engagement spaces that are integrated with the curriculum and meet a wide range of educational objectives. The Foundation now provides a range of training, educational resources, support and a membership service that is open to all schools, primary and secondary, as well as kindergartens, childcare centres and preschools, and community education and health organisations.

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