Parent Confidence is Key to Keeping Kids from Unhealthy Foods, Says Study

by Colleen Fleiss on  January 22, 2020 at 12:31 AM Child Health News
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There is a clear link between parents' motivations, and their children's intake of unhealthy foods, revealed study by the University of South Australia and Flinders University.
Parent Confidence is Key to Keeping Kids from Unhealthy Foods, Says Study
Parent Confidence is Key to Keeping Kids from Unhealthy Foods, Says Study

"Parents hold the purse strings to the family pantry, which means they can help make a big difference in improving children's diets," lead researcher and PhD candidate Brittany Johnson says.

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"But with statistics showing that kids are eating up to eight times the recommended serves for unhealthy foods- most commonly, cakes, biscuits, savory pastries and takeaways - and, that less than five per cent of Aussie kids eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables - there is certainly scope for changes."

The imbalance of healthy to unhealthy foods in children's diets is a serious problem that is contributing to the alarming rise in childhood obesity. Already, one in four Australian children (aged 2-17) are overweight, with global estimates currently at 340 million for children and adolescents (aged 5-19).

Johnson's research assessed the motivations and behaviours of 495 parents (of three to seven-year-olds) finding that only 50 per cent of parents intend to cut back on their kids' consumption of unhealthy foods. Johnson says this distinct knowledge-behaviour gap can be improved by boosting parents' confidence, intention and planning.

"Parents need to believe that they can make changes and remember they are in control. Repeating in your head that you can reduce how much unhealthy foods kids eat and practising this can help," Johnson says.

"This can be as simple as making a plan before you go to the supermarket, avoiding the confectionary aisle, and being mindful when selecting off-the-shelf school snacks which, while convenient and appealing, are typically jam-packed with fat, sugars, salt and little else. "To improve children's diet quality and reduce the risk of chronic conditions we need novel, scalable and effective interventions.

"We must better support parents to make positive changes. This can include providing clear information about unhealthy food recommendations, appropriate portion sizes, the benefits of children eating healthier foods and the impact of unhealthy choices.

"We can all help by making changes to reduce how many unhealthy foods we buy and consume. Only then will we start to see change."

Source: Newswise

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