September 26, 2022

Three in 5 say it is hard to get kids to eat well-balanced diets, because of not eating enough fruits and vegetables, pickiness, and other reasons.

More than half of parents said that it is difficult to get their children to eat well-balanced diets, and half say their children regularly takes supplements, according to the University of Michigan Health CS Mott Children’s National Poll on Children’s Health.

“A balanced diet helps children get the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development,” Sarah Clark, MPH, co-director at Mott Poll, said in a statement. “Our poll finds that many turn to dietary supplements as a solution but may not always consult with a health provider.”

Additionally, approximately one-third of parents said that their children are picky, and one-third said they do not think their children eat enough fruits and vegetable.

Approximately 13% said that they worried that their children were not getting enough of certain minerals and vitamins, while 9% said that their children needed more fiber in their diets.

The survey was nationally representative and included 1251 parents each of whom had at least 1 child between age 1 and 10 years.

Another potential barrier is cost. About half of parents agreed that it is more expensive to provide their children with healthy diets.

“We know that fresh, healthy foods can be more expensive than processed or packaged items that are often higher in sodium and added sugars,” Clark said. “This can make it especially frustrating for parents when children waste or refuse to eat healthy foods.”

More than three-quarters of parents said that they gave their multivitamins.

Approximately half said they had also provided their children with probiotics, which are live bacteria and yeast that help digestion by providing good microbes in the gut.

More than one-fifth of parents said that they have given their children Omega-3 supplements, a fatty acid that supports brain development and cell growth..

Additionally, about one-third of parents said that their children have not taken them regularly.

Among those who have given their child supplements, 4 in 5 said that they chose products made specifically for children.

However, only approximately 2 in 5 of parents said that they discussed supplement use with their children’s health care providers.

“Dietary supplements are often intended to enhance the amount of vitamins children consume through a regular diet,” Clark said. “The use of dietary supplements in children is an important health decision to discuss with doctors, but less than half of parents who have given their child a supplement talked to their child’s health provider.”

Parents in lower-income households were also less likely to talk about supplement use with their children’s health care providers compared with higher-income parents, according to the survey results.

Because supplements are classified by the FDA as food, they do not receive the same premarketing evaluation and review as medications, which results in limited research on the efficacy and safety of vitamins, Clark said.

“To minimize the risks of supplement use, parents should share concerns about their child’s diet with a pediatrician who can help them identify the best strategies to improve the nutritional quality of their child’s diet and determine whether supplements are recommended,” she said.

Reference

Half of parents regularly give kids a dietary supplement. EurekAlert. News release. April 18, 2022. Accessed April 20, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/949682