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Half of parents resorting to dietary supplements for picky-eater kids

"The reality for many parents is that getting children to eat healthy foods isn’t always easy."

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By Stephen Beech via SWNS

Half of parents regularly give their children a dietary supplement as they worry about their picky eating habits, according to a survey from University of Michigan Health.

Three in five moms and dads say it’s hard to get their child to eat a well-balanced diet because they are finicky about food.

Image of displeased picky eater during lunch
Around 1 in 3 of parents polled said they want this kid to eat more fruit and veg. (ESB Professional/Shutterstock)

Around one in three parents say their child is a picky eater and a third don’t think they eat enough fruits or veg.

Just over one in eight - or 13 percent - worried their kids weren’t getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals while one in 11 (nine percent) said their child needed more fiber in their diet.

Most parents polled have given their child dietary supplements, with over three-quarters using multivitamins.

Close to half had also provided kids with probiotics, which are live bacteria and yeast taken to help digestion by enhancing the quantity of good microbes in the gut.

More than a fifth have used Omega 3 supplements, fatty acids that support cell growth and brain development.

One in two parents agreed that it was more expensive to provide their child with a healthy diet. The survey was with more than 1,200 American parents, with at least one child aged 10 or younger.

Poll co-director Sarah Clark said: "A balanced diet helps children get the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.

"An unhealthy diet, on the other hand, can negatively affect short and long-term health outcomes as well as school performance.

“Still, the reality for many parents is that getting children to eat healthy foods isn’t always easy.

via GIPHY

"Our poll finds that many turn to dietary supplements as a solution but may not always consult with a health provider.

"We know that fresh, healthy foods can be more expensive than processed or packaged items that are often higher in sodium and added sugars.

“This can make it especially frustrating for parents when children waste or refuse to eat healthy foods.”

About a third of parents say their child has tried but does not take supplements regularly.

Among parents who have given their child supplements, four in five say they chose products made specifically for children, but only about two in five say they discussed supplement use with their child’s health care provider.

Ms. Clark says parents considering supplements will likely need to choose from various products and formulations that may claim specific health benefits.

She added: “Dietary supplements are often intended to enhance the amount of vitamins children consume through a regular diet.

“But parents may not always know whether their child is getting proper nutrition.

“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.”

She said it’s unclear if the lack of consultation is the result of providers not asking about the child’s nutrition, parents not thinking supplement use warrants professional advice, or another reason.

Many parents report problems with their child's diet, suggests a new national poll from the University of Michigan.

Parents in lower-income households were also less likely to talk about supplement use with their child’s health care provider, compared to higher-income parents.

Ms. Clark said: “Providers should be diligent about discussing nutrition with families so they understand what a healthy diet should include and are using supplements appropriately.

“In situations where families can’t afford to provide a healthy diet, providers may direct parents to social service programs that can help.

“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.”

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