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‘Fast food is just so easy to get’

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Unlike many parents, Caroline Farrell, who lives in Sallins, Co Kildare, never found it hard to get her children to eat well, partly because she prepares all of her family’s meals from scratch.

Nevertheless, eating habits reflect the personalities of her children, too. “My daughter, who is eight, is actually quite a fussy eater. She’s made me realise it’s probably just not what you get at home, it’s just the way you are,” she says.

Farrell was speaking following a report on the dietary habits of secondary school teenagers in the State, which found that most are eating too much salt, sugar and saturated fats and too few vegetables.

“I’d consider myself a healthy eater, any food I get at home is all made from scratch. Obviously you’d have the odd treat or whatever,” says her 16-year-old son, Conor.

“I’ve always eaten healthy ever since I was young. I’ve always had the opportunity to try new foods,” he goes on. However, there are other influences besides his mother, he accepts.

When outside with friends, he says he would be more likely to eat takeaway food, while “ideas or advertisements” that are found on social media play their role, too.

Why do so many teenagers eat badly? “There could be loads of reasons. It could be family, it could just be the way they’ve always eaten. It could be stress, especially for people doing the Leaving Cert,” he tells The Irish Times.

Popular takeaways

Meanwhile, 15-year-olds Maebh Maguire and Laura Milhorn, out for a walk along the Grand Canal, both consider themselves healthy eaters “for the most part”, though, again, takeaways are popular when with friends.

“If I know some foods are bad, I’ll stay away from them,” says Maguire, though her friend adds: “Sometimes if we’d be going out we’d be eating bad food, kind of influenced in a bad way.”

“Fast food is just so easy to get,” agrees Maguire.

Ella Tobin and friend Jenny Butler: They try to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day helped by a recent greater focus on healthy eating in school.
Ella Tobin and friend Jenny Butler: They try to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day helped by a recent greater focus on healthy eating in school.

However, the influence of friends on young people’s eating habits is not always negative. In fact, say teenagers Ella Tobin and Jenny Butler, trying to be healthy actually became popular during the Covid-lockdown.

They try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, helped by a recent greater focus on healthy eating in school, says Butler, while social media, such as TikTok, have influenced teenagers positively over the last year, says her friend.

Siobhán Hannifan, a mother to a seven-year-old and a 10-year-old, says it is important not to lay down the law too often with children, since they can often want what they are told not to eat. “I try not to label foods as ‘bad,’” she says.

Sweet tooth

Children have different eating habits. Her daughter has a bigger sweet tooth than her son, for example, while the presentation of food on the kitchen table can influence the way they think about food.

Louise Butler, mother of three-year-old Rose, finds it difficult at home to get her daughter to eat vegetables, but when she is in the creche around other children her daughter clears a vegetable-filled plate because others are doing so.

“It’s really, really hard. When she was very young she would eat great and now I think everything just went south. I don’t remember the exact moment, but I guess it’s just normal for kids.

“She’s like the typical three-year-old now in that her favourite things would be the stereotypes like pizza, fish fingers, sausages, but I would be hard-pushed to get a vegetable into her. I don’t worry about it too much, though.

“Whatever it is about creche, the kind of herd mentality, there she cleans her plate. There’s always all sorts of vegetables. All the kids sit down together and they eat it,” Butler tells The Irish Times.

She has tried replacing treats such as jellies with fruit. Ideally, she would just cut all unhealthy foods out of the menu, but the reality of raising a toddler does not make that easy. “For me the goal is just to get her to eat,” she says.

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Green mortgages may leave owners of older homes unable to sell

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Estate agents warn owners of older homes, rural houses and listed properties could struggle to sell under green mortgage plans

  • Boris Johnson has unveiled his plans for turning Britain green by 2050 
  • The plans include proposals on how to make the housing stock greener 
  • The plans would see lenders disclose the energy performance of properties










Homeowners living in older, rural and even listed properties risk being unable to sell if strict green finance targets are introduced, estate agents have warned.

The warning comes after Boris Johnson unveiled his plan for turning Britain green by 2050 this week, with mortgage lenders having targets for the energy performance of properties in their portfolio.

A body that represents estate agents across Britain claimed that the property market could be distorted as a result of the measures and called for Britain’s historic housing stock to be taken into account.

Boris Johnson revealed proposals on how to make the housing stock greener this week

Boris Johnson revealed proposals on how to make the housing stock greener this week

Timothy Douglas, of Propertymark, said: ‘Incentivising green improvements to properties via lending creates risks of trapping homeowners with older properties, those who live in rural areas, listed buildings or conservation areas, making their homes difficult to sell and therefore reducing the value.’

Propertymark said that those living in older properties could be left with homes that they could not sell if buyers were unable to secure finance on them due to their lower energy efficiencies.

The effect would be likely to be felt more by less wealthy owners, as deep-pocketed buyers would be more able to overlook mortgage restrictions and high-end older homes would continue to be desirable.

Mr Douglas said: ‘The use of targets could distort the market and sway lenders towards preferential, newer homes in order to improve the rating of their portfolio.

‘Stopping a large portion of housing stock from being able to enter the market could cause havoc for home buying and selling as well as the wider economy.’ 

He added that improving the energy efficiency of homes should be reliant on consumer choice and not something enforced by mortgage lenders, with all the knock-on effects this could entail.

He said: ‘We would be concerned if lenders raise rates and limit products because fundamentally, improving the energy performance of a property is reliant on consumer choice and it is not the core business of mortgage lenders.’

Mark Harris, of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: ‘The green agenda is not new but there is increasing impetus behind it. There are more green mortgage products aimed at those purchasing more energy-efficient properties – A-C rated, and not just from specialist lenders but the high street banks too.

‘However, there is a real danger that green initiatives could create the next round of mortgage prisoners if homeowners are trapped in older homes that can’t be improved, so they can’t move because they can’t sell them on.

‘Without changes or improvements, lenders may restrict lending to lower loan-to-values, higher pricing, or not lend at all. This could penalise those who are unable to adapt to or adopt new efficient technologies economically.’

A UK Finance spokesperson said: ‘Greening our housing stock is vital if we are to meet our climate change obligations and banks and finance providers are committed to helping achieve this goal and making sure consumers are not left behind.’

Ways to boost energy efficiency  

Propertymark recommends three measures to improve the energy efficiency of homes without negatively impacting the housing market.

1. Improvements linked to an EPC

These include linking a plan for energy efficiency improvements to the recommendations on a property’s Energy Performance Certificate.

It could demonstrate the ‘most suitable route’ to a warmer home, regulatory compliance and zero carbon, according to Propertymark.

2. Tax breaks

It also recommends using tax breaks to incentivise homeowners to finance energy efficiency improvements.

For example, these could include making energy improvements exempt from VAT or offering lower rates of council tax for homes that have been made more energy efficient.

3. Adjustable tax rates

An adjustable rate of property tax that is tied to energy performance is also being recommended by Propertymark.

This could be done in two ways, it suggested. First, by applying the adjustment as a reduction on more energy-efficient properties. And second by offering rebates to buyers if energy efficiency improvements are made to less efficient properties within a certain time period after purchase.

Propertymark said that by linking energy performance with property taxes, this could help introduce increased saleability for more energy-efficient properties. In addition, it suggested that improvements would become standard for homeowners seeking costs and improve the desirability of their homes.

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Johnson rules out face masks as UK’s daily Covid cases rise above 50,000

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Daily coronavirus cases in Britain have risen above 50,000 for the first time since July, but Boris Johnson said he will not bring back compulsory face coverings or introduce vaccine passports.

Speaking in Northern Ireland, the prime minister said his government was holding firm to its policy of no legal restrictions introduced in July, but was watching the numbers carefully.

“The numbers of infections are high but we are within the parameters of what the predictions were,” he said. “We are sticking with our plan.”

Mr Johnson acknowledged the “patchiness” of Britain’s vaccination programme, urging people to come forward for their booster jabs as soon as they are invited to do so. But Labour leader Keir Starmer said the government should beef up the programme, ensure that more children were vaccinated and aim to deliver half a million jabs a day.

“The government said that the vaccine would be the security wall against the virus and now the government is letting that wall crumble,” he said.

“We’ve seen those that most need it not able to get the jab they need. Only, I think, 17 per cent of children have got the vaccine. And the booster programme has slowed down so much that at this rate we’re not going to complete it until spring of next year. So the government needs to change these, it needs to get a grip. I think it needs to drive those numbers up to at least 500,000 vaccines a day.”

Vaccine passports

The British Medical Association (BMA) accused the government of “wilful negligence” in not bringing back some restrictions, and of failing to learn the lessons of a parliamentary report last week about its handling of the pandemic. The association’s chairman, Chaand Nagpaul, said doctors could say categorically that it was time to bring back compulsory face masks and to introduce vaccine passports.

“By the health secretary’s own admission we could soon see 100,000 cases a day, and we now have the same number of weekly Covid deaths as we had during March, when the country was in lockdown,” he said.

“It is, therefore, incredibly concerning that he is not willing to take immediate action to save lives and protect the NHS. ”

Health secretary Sajid Javid warned this week that some restrictions could be introduced if the public failed to exercise caution and to take up vaccination offers. He acknowledged that Conservative MPs could show an example by wearing masks in the House of Commons, but house leader Jacob Rees-Mogg on Thursday rejected the suggestion.

Crowded spaces

“There is no advice to wear face masks in workplaces. The advice on crowded spaces is with crowded spaces with people that you don’t know. We on this side know each other,” he told the SNP’s Pete Wishart.

“Now, it may be that he doesn’t like mixing with his own side, wants to keep himself in his personal bubble. He may find the other members of the SNP – who I normally find extraordinarily charming…but we on this side have a more convivial fraternal spirit, and for our calling the guidance of her majesty’s government.”

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Britney Spears and fiancé Sam Asghari are spotted house hunting at Jeffree Star’s mansion

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Britney Spears and fiancé Sam Asghari have been spotted house hunting – and the $16.5million mansion in the upscale Hidden Hills neighborhood in Calabasas they’re considering belongs to none other than makeup mogul Jeffree Star. 

Britney continues to make strides in regaining her freedom and was seen by DailyMail.com Tuesday arriving at the private entrance to the Hidden Hills estate, only accessible to its A-list residents, including Drake, The Kardashians and Miley Cyrus

Britney, 39, drove her white Mercedes-Benz to the gates while 27-year-old Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse. 

They were greeted by a real estate agent who gave them access, arriving at the property at 2pm and viewing the house for about 35 minutes.

The house, purchased by Jeffree in 2019 for $14.6 million, has seven bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and boasts sweeping views of the Southern California hills. 

DailyMail.com spotted Britney Spears and fiancé Sam Asghari house hunting Tuesday in the upscale Hidden Hills neighborhood in Calabasas, California

DailyMail.com spotted Britney Spears and fiancé Sam Asghari house hunting Tuesday in the upscale Hidden Hills neighborhood in Calabasas, California

Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

The house, purchased by Jeffree in 2019 for $14.6 million, has seven bedrooms, 13 Bathrooms and boasts sweeping views of the Southern California hills

The house, purchased by Jeffree in 2019 for $14.6 million, has seven bedrooms, 13 Bathrooms and boasts sweeping views of the Southern California hills

They were greeted by a Real Estate Agent who gave them access, arriving at the property at 2pm and viewing the house for 35 minutes

They were greeted by a Real Estate Agent who gave them access, arriving at the property at 2pm and viewing the house for 35 minutes

Britney drove her white Mercedes-Benz to the gates while Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

Britney drove her white Mercedes-Benz to the gates while Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

Britney drove her white Mercedes-Benz to the gates while Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

Sam, 27, has been by Britney's side throughout her conservatorship battle and as her soon-to-be husband it's only right he accompany her on her house hunting adventures

Sam, 27, has been by Britney’s side throughout her conservatorship battle and as her soon-to-be husband it’s only right he accompany her on her house hunting adventures 

The engaged couple were seen arriving at the private entrance to the Hidden Hills estate only accessible to its A-list residents, including Drake, The Kardashians, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lopez

The engaged couple were seen arriving at the private entrance to the Hidden Hills estate only accessible to its A-list residents, including Drake, The Kardashians, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lopez

The house hunting comes days after Britney wrote a scathing Instagram caption, in which she told her relatives they should be worried if she ever gives an interview

The house hunting comes days after Britney wrote a scathing Instagram caption, in which she told her relatives they should be worried if she ever gives an interview

The Jeffree Star Cosmetics founder listed his mansion in July this year with plans to move to Wyoming full-time. 

Jeffree Star listed his mansion in July this year with plans to move to Wyoming full-time

Jeffree Star listed his mansion in July this year with plans to move to Wyoming full-time

The YouTuber has had a career embroiled in controversy and made the move to his 70-acre ranch in Wyoming, where he’d already been living part-time, to focus on his mental health.  

‘I need to get away from California and its day-to-day atmosphere,’ he said in a YouTube video. ‘I think I’ve gotten all that I can out of this state.’ 

And while he’s ready to start anew, so is Britney, after her father Jamie was removed as conservator of her multimillion dollar estate  last month. 

According to the listing, the 21,000sqft French Normandy Estate sits on 2.82 acres and is nestled at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac.  

The home boasts ‘superior quality amenities throughout’ which include a home theater with custom seating, large game room with wet bar, two story gym with steam & sauna, complete home spa, and a wine tasting room & refrigerated wine cellar. 

According to the listing, the 21,000 square foot French Normandy Estate sits on 2.82 acres and is nestled at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac

According to the listing, the 21,000 square foot French Normandy Estate sits on 2.82 acres and is nestled at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac

Outside, the grounds feature a sparkling pool, spa, fire pit, two barbecue centers and two covered patios

Outside, the grounds feature a sparkling pool, spa, fire pit, two barbecue centers and two covered patios

A sunken outdoor living room with a fire pit in the middle is surrounded by the luxurious pool and fits at least a dozen guests

A sunken outdoor living room with a fire pit in the middle is surrounded by the luxurious pool and fits at least a dozen guests

The home boasts a  large gourmet kitchen with two islands that opens to the family room, two beautiful custom offices, large game room with wet bar, craft room, home automation system, safe room

The home boasts a  large gourmet kitchen with two islands that opens to the family room, two beautiful custom offices, large game room with wet bar, craft room, home automation system, safe room

The home movie theater is beyond and impressive and perfect for entertaining guests who visit Britney and Sam

The home movie theater is beyond and impressive and perfect for entertaining guests who visit Britney and Sam 

The home has an expansive wine cellar with a two-seater table for any wine-loving connoisseurs to enjoy

The home has an expansive wine cellar with a two-seater table for any wine-loving connoisseurs to enjoy 

The listing states, ‘Additional features include a large gourmet kitchen with two islands that opens to the family room, two beautiful custom offices, large game room with wet bar, craft room, home automation system, safe room, and sculptural glass elevator.’

The main house has five bedroom suits, including the luxurious master suite, perfect for Britney and her new fiancé. 

Outside, the grounds feature a sparkling pool, spa, fire pit, two barbecue centers and two covered patios. 

The house hunting comes days after Britney wrote a scathing Instagram caption, in which she told her relatives they should be worried if she ever gives an interview.

As she continues to adjust to life as a free woman, the star sent a clear message to those who profited from her ‘abusive’ conservatorship, controlled by her father Jamie, for the past 13 years. 

‘Lord have mercy on my family’s souls if I ever do an interview!!!’ she told her more than 35.4 million Instagram followers on Friday. 

The huge mansion even has a sculptural glass elevator to take you between floors

The huge mansion even has a sculptural glass elevator to take you between floors 

The home also offers a 4,700-square-foot underground garage for more than seven cars

The home also offers a 4,700-square-foot underground garage for more than seven cars

The home boasts ‘superior quality & amenities throughout’ which include a home theater with custom seating, large game room with wet bar, two story gym with steam & sauna, complete home spa, and a wine tasting room & refrigerated wine cellar

Huge doors from an elegant seating area lead out into the pool area for indoor and outdoor fun

Huge doors from an elegant seating area lead out into the pool area for indoor and outdoor fun 

An entire area is dedicated to gaming, with classic gaming machines seen in an elegant room with an oversized chandelier

An entire area is dedicated to gaming, with classic gaming machines seen in an elegant room with an oversized chandelier 

If Britney moves to the estate in Hidden Hills, she'll be neighbors with other A-listers the likes of Drake, The Kardashians and Miley Cyrus

If Britney moves to the estate in Hidden Hills, she’ll be neighbors with other A-listers the likes of Drake, The Kardashians and Miley Cyrus 

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she's called 'abusive'

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she’s called ‘abusive’

In addition to stating she is ‘staying clear’ of the entertainment business for now, Britney confessed navigating her independence has been hard. 

‘I’ll just be honest and say I’ve waited so long to be free from the situation I’m in… and now that it’s here I’m scared to do anything because I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake!!’ she said.    

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she’s called ‘abusive.’

She has said that she’s ‘afraid ‘ of her dad and declared that she would not perform again until he was no longer in charge of the conservatorship he’s been overseeing since her much-publicized breakdown in 2008.

One of her most heart-wrenching revelations came during a tearful phone appearance at Judge Penny’s court last June when she said that she wanted to have a baby with her fiancé, personal trainer Sam Asghari, but the strict conservatorship wouldn’t allow her to remove her IUD birth control.

‘I feel ganged up on and bullied and alone,’ Britney told the court during that emotional statement. ‘I just want my life back.’

She also told the judge that she felt ‘enslaved’ by her dad, whom she, added, ‘should be in jail.’

Britney and Sam are looking forward to starting their lives together now that her father Jamie has been removed as conservator of her estate

Sam has spoken out about Britney's conservatorship and denounced her father Jamie's right to control his pop star daughter

Britney and Sam are looking forward to starting their lives together now that her father Jamie has been removed as conservator of her estate  

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she's called 'abusive'

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she’s called ‘abusive’

Fans hold signs that read 'Fry Jamie Fry' and 'I want my life back' outside of the courtroom last month as Jamie was removed as her conservator

Fans hold signs that read ‘Fry Jamie Fry’ and ‘I want my life back’ outside of the courtroom last month as Jamie was removed as her conservator 

Last year, at her father’s request, the conservatorship (the one dealing with Britney’s personal affairs, not the conservatorship controlling her finances) was temporarily transferred from Jamie to her long-time caregiver Jodi Montgomery.

While he blamed his stepping down on health issues, Jamie’s decision came amid accusations that he had gotten into an altercation with Britney’s then 14 year-old son Sean Preston, now 16.

Kevin Federline – Britney’s ex and the father of Sean and his brother Jayden James, 15 – made a police report and took out a restraining order against his former father-in-law after the incident in which, reportedly, a ‘very angry’ Jamie broke down the door of a room Sean had locked himself in and ‘shook’ the frightened teen.

Finally last month, a judge  suspended Jamie as the conservator of Britney’s personal life and $60 million estate after 13 years, appointing accountant John Zabel as a temporary conservator. 

The suspension comes as allegations of his mistreatment of his daughter – including secretly recording her calls and messages – have ramped up the furor over his conservatorship.

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