If you are a good parent, then you want what’s best for your child. But somehow, the landscape called “raising a child” can become cluttered with decisions that are anything but the best for the health of your kid. Nutrition is so complicated that many of us, even experts, can be stymied as we try and make healthy choices for our family. Add in the “I want to put a smile on my kid’s face” reality that most of us grapple with daily, and it’s no wonder chocolate cereals, snack bags of chips, pizza, chocolate milk and candies end up routinely in our shopping carts.
Science now suggests that when you feed your child these kinds of foods on a regular basis, they will literally become addicted to them, or at minimum, set their baseline tastes to measure every food against the taste, texture and flavors of treat foods. These foods are also contributing to obesity patterns, even if they are not the only cause of the disease. It’s also important to note that many processed breads and cereals also have a significant amount of salt in their recipes, adding flavor and contributing to the risk of hypertension. Of course, manufacturers are challenged to keep their profits high, while addressing the fact that their products are confounding the health of our kids.
Parents are desperate to strike a balance between giving their kids tasty food that is good for them, and navigating the reality of a world filled with snack foods, fast foods and processed foods that are anything but healthy. Cargill, a privately held, multi-national company, is now the largest privately held corporation in the U.S., in terms of revenue. Its major business is purchasing, distributing and trading grain and other agricultural commodities. It declared revenues of $136.7 billion and earnings of $2.31 billion in 2013. Cargill is hearing the anguished call of challenged parents and trying to find solutions. Cargill recently surveyed 1,000 consumers. They determined that parents are concerned about nutrition, but also feel like there is a place for snacks and treats in a child’s diet. The study looked at nine categories of foods typically consumed by kids: cereal, cookies, breads and rolls, crackers, snack bars, fruit and juice drinks, frozen pizza, ice cream, and soft drinks. The survey was specifically looking at parental attitudes to these foods. Findings included:
- 59% of parents try to keep meals healthy, while still allowing for treats, with 66% of parents ages 18-32, versus 53% of parents ages 33-47 saying they specifically take this balanced approach.
- Moms (52%) more than dads (42%) are seeking healthier balance in their kids’ diet
- Parents (8 out of 10) are unhappy with the “healthfulness” of products currently available
- Nine out of ten parents said they would be likely to buy healthier products, if readily available
- Though budgets are a consideration, a significant number of parents would be willing to pay more for healthier food
Cargill also isolated out some determinants that specifically drive creating healthier bakery options:
Seeking, which means parents are searching for baked goods with positive nutrition attributes. These attributes include things like more fiber and whole grains.
Having a clean label, which means that the ingredients listed are recognizable and not “chemical-sounding terms.” This especially drives purchases in the cookies, breads/rolls, and cracker categories.
Avoidance, because of the presence of certain levels of specific elements like salt, sugar, fat, or calories, which weren’t as important a consideration, in the baked goods sector. Cargill’s study seemed to indicate that parents look more for the positive attributes in a food, rather than demonizing a food because of certain ingredients.
Note: As a nutritionist, I think parents need to strike a balance between categorizing a food as a treat, and, therefore, something that should have “special and unique” handling in a child’s diet with limited frequency, and looking for clean labels, with wholesome ingredients, which helps parents to justify more frequent and regular consumption by a child. Fruits and vegetables should be the stars, but parents should be creative with healthy dips as accompaniments, so there is more fun involved. Cutting sandwiches made with whole grain breads into shapes, making juice “ice cubes” to flavor water or seltzer, adding fun ingredients like nuts, cereal, dried fruit, dark chocolate chips into Greek yogurts can all help to encourage a child’s interest in healthier foods.
Sources: Food Navigator
Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What’s for Lunch? Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and The 4 Habits of Healthy Families, she tweets health headlines daily @HealthGal1103. Catch her guest appearances on Marie! on Hallmark and other local and national news and talk shows.
Follow my blogs at: http://www.healthcentral.com/profiles/c/86903
Published On: October 21, 2013