More than half of Australian mothers are struggling to serve healthy meals to their children every day, and many are worrying that their kids are too inactive, a survey has found.
The survey of more than 16,000 mums, which comes amid growing concern about childhood obesity, has revealed widespread concern about their children's diet and exercise levels.
It revealed that 36 percent of mothers feared their children weren't getting enough physical activity, and that 43 percent said they tried to give their kids balanced meals, but were finding it difficult.
Another 10 per cent of mothers were either confused about what to serve up or couldn't get their children to eat the healthy meals they prepared.
"Mealtimes can be a challenge," the Courier Mail quoted Louisa Begley, a Brisbane mum with three school-age children including one fussy eater and another who wants a lot of variety in the weekly menu, as saying.
"Just finding meals that are balanced and that all three children are going to enjoy is really tough," she said.
With her own busy home-based consultancy, a husband whose career involves lots of travel, and the children's after-school activities to fit in, Begley said lack of time was another complicating factor.
"If I'm organized and plan at the start of the week, I can manage. But if something happens on the weekend and we don't get our weekly shop in, that's when it's difficult," she stated.
Begley is looking forward to the release of a new book of healthy meals for families, the fourth in a series of cookbooks produced jointly by dietician,s at the Australian Institute of Sport and Nestle.
One author of Survival for the Active Family, AIS dietician Greg Cox, said time-poor families needed more quick but nutritious meal options.
"Even people who might know what they should be providing for their kids, they often run out of time," he said.
"And people tend to grab (pre-packaged foods) because they're quick and easy, as opposed to developing a meal from scratch," he revealed.
Dietitians Association of Australia spokeswoman Clare Evangalista agreed time pressure was the biggest obstacle for parents struggling to provide healthy meals for the family, but they might also be intimidated by the rash of television cooking programs.
"That can make it hard for mums, because they feel like they're supposed to be presenting three-course, five-star dinners to their families every night," she said.
"It adds to the pressure on mothers, but exotic meals are not necessarily any healthier than the everyday staples," she added.
The Australian Institute of Sport, and food manufacturer Nestle as released the findings.