Four fifths of UK parents have children who are fussy eaters, healthcare company survey shows

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Food supplement in shake form aimed at children

Food supplement in shake form aimed at children

Fussy eating habits affect more than eight in 10 families across the UK, according to an online survey of more than 1,000 parents, commissioned by the global healthcare company Abbott.

It found 60% of parents stating fussy eating was a cause of frustration. One third said it made them worry and 27% reported the situation led to feelings of anxiety and powerlessness.

London has the fussiest children in the UK with 89% of parents reporting they have experienced fussy eating with their child – 10% higher than the UK’s least fussy regions – Wales and the Midlands. Parents in Northern Ireland and London worry the most about their child not getting the nutrition they need and are also the most likely to feel guilty.

Fussy eating behaviour affects family mealtimes:

  • 39% of parents with fussy eaters said that their child’s behaviour had turned mealtimes into a time of conflict and created tension with their partner
  • Over one-third (34%) of parents admitted that their child’s fussy eating phase had limited the range and variety of foods for the whole family
  • Almost 10% of parents said they can spend between 40 minutes and an hour every mealtime encouraging their child to eat

In response to the issue, Abbott is launching a new website – www.fussyeaters.co.uk – offering practical guidance to parents to help them get their fussy eaters back on track with healthy eating and PaediaSure Shake, a specially formulated food supplement for children aged one to 10 years.  

The website for parents of fussy eaters has been developed in partnership with nutrition and psychology experts, with input from mothers with first-hand experience of the challenges that parents face. The site hosts a 12-week “back on track” eating plan, which provides week-by-week practical guidance and helpful tips to help support parents and children on their journey to enjoying healthy foods and to developing healthy eating habits. The plan helps parents to:

  • Identify and understand their child’s individual habits and hunger signals
  • Follow a set meal and snack routine
  • Introduce new foods and textures gradually and regularly
  • Make mealtimes a positive experience for everyone
  • Let their child take some of the control

In addition, the website features dietitian-designed Six Sure Steps to raise a child who eats well, which include modifying textures of foods based on the child’s feeding skills (soft textures, soft finger foods, crunchy foods); putting a small amount of a new food on the child’s plate; trusting the child to eat as much as he or she needs; eating with the child to model good eating.

To support parents during this journey, Abbott is also launching PaediaSure Shake, a food supplement designed for fussy eaters. It contains protein, vitamin D and calcium for strong bones, as well as iron to support brain development. PaediaSure Shake is not a substitute for healthy eating; rather it provides a short-term solution and peace of mind for parents concerned about their child’s nutritional intake, while they work towards establishing healthy eating habits.

Mike Smith, general manager at Abbott Nutrition UK and Ireland, said: “Fussy eating among children is a widespread issue that has a significant social and emotional impact on families. PaediaSure Shake and fussyeaters.co.uk provide practical solutions and support for parents during this challenging time.”

Lucy Jones, registered dietitian, comments: “Fussy eating is a real concern for parents. While most children will grow and thrive without significant impact on their health and development, for others the behaviour becomes persistent leading to real anxiety for parents. The key is to ignore the behaviour, not the problem.”

For more information about PaediaSure Shake, please visit www.fussyeaters.co.uk. Parents can purchase PaediaSure Shake online from www.boots.com and the vanilla flavour will be available exclusively in selected Boots stores from February 2014.