Parents begin to lose control of their children at the age of 13, a study has found.
After years of watching their every step, mums and dads are left wondering what their offspring are eating, doing and who they are friends with after they start secondary school and begin to make their own way in the world.
Four in 10 worry about the food and drink their child is tucking into when they aren’t with them, with 43 per cent often finding illicit sweet or fast food wrappers in their child’s bedroom or school bag.
And 39 per cent don’t always know who their child is hanging around with or the company they are keeping – which makes losing control of their diet even more likely.
Almost one in 10 even believe the point at which they have to start to let go begins as early as 10 years old.
But the study by Vitabiotics’ Wellteen found their fears may be justified as almost 40 per cent of parents believe their children eat more junk food such as cake, chocolate and crisps than they did at the same age.
And more than half of parents argue with their teens about their diet, with the need to eat more fruit and vegetables top of the list.
A spokesperson for Wellteen vitamins, said: “With a bigger range of snacks to choose from, it is no surprise many parents think their offspring are indulging in more junk food than they did at the same age.
“When our children are young, it’s easy to know exactly what they are doing, who they are with and what they are having to eat and drink.
“Even when they start school and nursery, you still get a good idea of what they are doing from teachers and notes sent home.
“But as they get older and start to do things on their own, it can be harder to keep such a close eye on them, especially when it comes to their diet.
“As they travel to school by themselves or head out unaccompanied with friends, they have the opportunity to eat and drink foods they know they wouldn’t usually be allowed at home.
“As a result, parents are left trying to guess what they have had to eat and whether or not they are getting everything they need.”
The study of 2,000 parents of teenagers aged 13-18 found six in 10 feel like they’ve lost control of their children as they’ve become more independent.
But this means 63 per cent of parents worry about their children getting all of the vitamins they need for a healthy diet.
The research, carried out via OnePoll.com found 12 per cent of parents admitted to having no idea how many chocolate bars their kids are eating while another one in 10 struggle to keep tabs on the number of packets of crisps they tuck into.
The same number couldn’t say how many glasses of fizzy drink are consumed while more than one in 20 have no idea if their children are eating the fruit and veg they should be.
It also emerged that just over four in 10 parents think their child has tried an alcoholic drink – when in reality 44 per cent of teenagers claim to have already had their first taste of booze.
And almost one in five teens have smoked a cigarette, something just 16 per cent of parents think is the case.
A spokesman for Wellteen added: “Teens are among those with the worst diets of any group, according to Government figures.
“That might be because they are rebelling from their parents and testing out their newfound independence, alongside the pressures of a hectic schedule of studies, sport and socialising.
“Good nutrition is vital for growing brains and bodies. While a healthy diet is the absolute priority and basis for health, Wellteen supplements can safeguard nutritional intake at a time of life when unfortunately it might not always be a priority in teenage lives.”