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Survey: 48% of American parents struggle to identify healthy foods

Relaxnews (AFP) logoRelaxnews (AFP) 20/2/2017

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One in six parents in the USA considers their child's diet "very healthy," according to a GfK survey for the University of Michigan. The poll questioned 1,727 parents about their daily approaches and challenges in providing a healthy diet for their children.

Although 97% of parents agree that establishing good eating habits in childhood plays an important role in children's lifelong health, only 17% of the American parents consider their own children's diets "very healthy," according to data from a survey of American parents polled by GfK for the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital (University of Michigan).

Fifty-six percent of parents polled rated their children's diets as "mostly healthy" and 27% said their child ate a "somewhat healthy" or "not healthy" diet.

What's more, the poll found that only 34% of parents are confident that they're doing a good job of shaping their children's lifelong eating habits.

The most commonly reported challenges to healthy eating faced by parents were the cost of healthy food (70%), that children don't like healthy food (60%) or that healthy food isn't convenient (52%).

Around 20% think that it is "somewhat important" or "not important" to limit junk food (21%) and fast food (21%) and to eat a varied diet (19%). Eating fruit and vegetables every day is "somewhat important" or "not important" for 13% of parents polled. Limiting sugary drinks is "somewhat important" or "not important" for 16%.

23% of American parents polled say that healthy food is not available where they shop. © Provided by AFPRelaxNews 23% of American parents polled say that healthy food is not available where they shop. Healthy food difficult to find for 23% of parents

Forty-eight percent of parents find it hard to tell which foods are really healthy. Plus, 23% of parents polled said that they had trouble finding healthy food where they shop, an issue that was pronounced for parents with lower income levels. Families with limited access to reliable transport may rely more heavily on convenience stores which are less well-stocked with options than larger grocery stores.

What's more, marketing terms and labels used by the food industry -- such as "sugar-free," "low-fat," "organic" and "100% natural" -- add to the confusion for parents trying to make healthy choices, the report concludes.

In general, parents of teens place less importance on healthy eating strategies than the parents of younger children.

The survey was carried out by GfK on behalf of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital (University of Michigan) in October 2016, polling 1,727 parents with at last one child aged 4 to 18 years old.

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