17th January 2020
Early Life Nutrition
Parents have a myriad of concerns when it comes to the health and wellbeing of their children. An FMCG Gurus survey of 35,000 parents of kids under the age of 16, conducted over the period Q3 2018/Q2 2O19 shows that two of the biggest concerns that parents have is their children being overweight or obese (41%) and the amount of screen time they have (38%). Often these two issues are seen to be interlinked, with parents worrying that children are spending too much time in front of digital devices whilst grazing on snack food.
Across the globe, obesity rates continue to rise amongst children. This is something that can be attributed to factors such as changing household structures, changing dietary habits and greater levels of inactivity. Indeed, the nuclear family is in decline across the globe. This means that more children are being brought up in single-parent households, whilst the number of mothers in employment continues to rise. This makes it difficult for some parents to monitor their child’s nutritional intake. It also increases their dependency on processed food as convenience has a greater influence on dinner-time occasions.
Meanwhile, children are spending more time on digital devices than ever before, being exposed to television streaming services, smartphones and game consoles at a younger age than previous generations. The amount of time spent on these devices is something that not only increases the risk of obesity because of greater levels of inactivity but also other health problems. For instance, the main reason often cited for weak immune systems amongst children is time spent indoors on technological devices.
As a result of these concerns, parents are trying to make greater efforts to monitor the nutritional intake of their children. Sugar is something that is seen as a dietary evil by parents because of the link with excessive waistlines and wider issues like hyperactivity. Across the globe, a total of 56% of parents say that they know how much sugar their child has had in the last twenty-four hours.
However, when it comes to helping their children to lead a healthier lifestyle, a total of 51% of parents cite hidden sugar in food and drink as problematic. This shows that parents can feel that food and brands can make nutritional labeling to be deliberately complex and confusing in order to “disguise” certain ingredients in products.
The reality is that concerns about issues such as sugar intake and inactivity will intensify amongst parents in the future. After all, children will continue to consume higher volumes of processed and convenience food than previous generations and will continue to substitute playing outside in favor of digital devices. As such, it will be seen as more important than ever that brands are seen to be helping facilitate healthier lifestyles amongst children – both from a labeling and formulation perspective – rather than being seen to hinder it.