Last week in a survey conducted by Abbott ‘SureMoms’ Program, it was revealed that in Mumbai 86% of mothers believe that their children are fussy eaters. According to the survey, “Over 59% of these mothers worry about their children’s nutritional requirements. 37% of the mothers expressed that their children were susceptible to cold & cough frequently, and 41 % believed that fussy eating impacted their children’s overall performance at school.” In light of this survey's findings, we asked Kim Milano - International Paediatric Nutrition Expert and Nutritional Consultant from Fort Carson, Colorado, USA - a few questions about the right eating habits for fussy eaters.
Mansi Kohli: What are the health hazards of eating while watching TV?
Ms. Milano: Watching more than 2 hours of TV a day impacts how active a child is. In addition, if children eat while they watch TV, they don't pay attention to how much they eat or what their hunger signals tell them. It is a distraction that often causes a child to eat too much or not enough.
Mansi Kohli: How serious is the issue of eating junk food before meal times and what is the best way to address it?
Ms. Milano: Eating junk food before meals results in a child not being hungry for meals. That means that they tend to eat more foods with fewer nutrients (junk food) and as a result less healthy foods at meal times. The best way a parent can prevent this from happening is to give a child only water between meals and insist on a regular meal schedule.
Mansi Kohli: What is the best way to address the meal time disputes faced by mothers?
Ms. Milano: The best way for mother to deal with meal time disputes is to realize what their role is in feeding a child. A mother's role is to provide healthy foods, establish meal times and to determine where meals are given. How much a child eats is the child's responsibility. Mothers and fathers should also sit and eat with their children and talk positively about food and not try to force their child to eat.
Mansi Kohli: What is the most important healthy snacking tip for kids?
Ms. Milano: A child should eat 3 meals and 1 to 2 snacks a day with nothing in between these meals except water. Snacks should be as healthy as meals because they provide about 1/3 rd of a child's nutrient needs.
Mansi Kohli: How important is it to eat as a family and inculcate healthy eating habits in kids?
Ms. Milano: Just like learning to walk, children need to learn healthy eating habits. They need to watch others eat and that is why it is so important for families to eat together. Research has shown that children who eat with their families eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk food.
Mansi Kohli: Could you tell us about the relevance of this survey? How do you think it helps mothers address the issue of meal time challenges amongst children?
Ms. Milano: The survey conducted by IPSPOS, that Abbott sponsored, looked at how mothers in 6 metros in India view their child's eating behaviour. It showed that in all 6 metros, many mothers (88%) are concerned about their child's fussy eating. Over 80% of mother's were concerned about their child's nutrition and many felt that their children didn't eat well because they ate junk food before meals and watched TV. This survey illustrates that mothers are not happy with how meal times go and that changes should be made in how they feed their children. The survey will help mothers set limits at meal time that will result in healthier eating behaviour. It's important that mothers understand how they feed their children affects how they eat and that fussy eating can be changed.
This survey was released by Abbott SureMoms’ Program in association with Kim Milano, an international Paediatric Nutrition Expert and Nutritional Consultant from Fort Carson, Colorado, USA. The purpose is to aid parents with information and assistance to enable them to make informed decisions about their children's eating habits.
*Image courtesy: © Kim Milano
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