Data published in February by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Medicine has revealed that a startling 22 per cent of reception-age children are now overweight or obese.
Are we raising a nation of children with negative relationships with food?
According to research released this week, commissioned by baby food brand Piccolo, who have partnered with the UK’s biggest parenting Charity, the National Childbirth Trust, a lack of confidence from parents on nutrition could be contributing to negative health trends in children.
The report, which surveyed thousands of parents, shows that British parents are afraid to experiment with flavours, with 45 per cent of parents confessing they never use herbs or spices in the children’s food in case it was too spicy for them.
The figures also suggest that fussy eaters are getting the better of half of British parents (50 per cent) who admit to caving in and offering up something unhealthier just to get their children to eat.
One in five parents believe weaning their child off milk is one of the most stressful parts of having a baby and nearly half of the parents surveyed (48 per cent) thought the struggle of weaning their child was caused by them doing something wrong.
Dr Rana Conway, an independent Registered Nutritionist and author of Weaning Made Easy, commented:“These are interesting results but what a shame so many parents are feeling guilty. Rather than focusing on what they may or may not have done wrong in the early days it’s better to think positively about how they can slowly change any unhealthy habits.”
She added: “It’s never too late to get little ones hooked on healthy colourful fruit and veg. It can be tempting to offer fussy eaters less healthy foods or extra milk but these just make them too full for the good stuff. There are so many wonderful veggies and other healthy foods available - I’d encourage parents to try lots of different ones and to keep on trying!”
Piccolo suggest that the results of their survey point to a lack of confidence among British parents, who are still too apprehensive to widen the palate of their children, resulting in young children eating a limited variety of bland and potentially unhealthy food.
Speaking about the results, Cat Gazzoli, Founder of Piccolo said: “There is strong evidence to suggest that early experiences with food influence our diet in later life. Introducing interesting and exciting flavours and providing a balanced diet is, without doubt, the best way to approach weaning and will set a child on the right track to having positive relationships with food.”