Does your child shun eating vegetables and fruits? A pan-India study, which includes Mumbai, ascertains that seven out of 10 children are fussy eaters. Fussy eaters consume less fruits and vegetables, eat incomplete meals and are relatively difficult to feed.
The study, titled SureMoms, was carried out by Abbott Healthcare Pvt Ltd, a pharmaceutical company, in four metro cities — Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata — between October and December 2013 across 64 clinics. It surveyed 1,181 children between the ages of two and 10 to find that a shocking 45% of them are undernourished. Dieticians measured the children's weight and height as well as asked mothers about their kids' eating habits.
But the figures in Mumbai are the most alarming of all, with 78% of all the children surveyed in the city having height and weight parameters below average. The study was conducted on the premise that many mothers in metro India are concerned that their child is a fussy eater.
The study observed that fussy eating is seen to strike more in early years — 61% children who were fussy eaters fell in the age group of two to four. Also, 73% of fussy eaters in the age group of 9 to 10 were found to have below-average height and weight.
"Fussy eating is often brushed aside as a growing-up phenomenon by elders in the family. However, over a long period of time, it can impact growth. It begins as early as infancy and has an impact that is evident in the later years of life," says Dr PS Moralwar, senior paediatrician from Navi Mumbai.
Dr Bhuvaneshwari Shankar, chief dietitian, Apollo Hospital in Chennai, says, "Fussy eaters are seen to eat less fruits and vegetables and have to be coaxed and cajoled into finishing meals. Parents must ensure that a day's major meals include a variety of healthy foods. Meals should be nourishing and appealing as well as tasty. For example, making rotis in different shapes and making soups and gravies for kids who don't like to eat vegetables."
To confirm if a child is growing right for his/her age, parents can visit www.facebook.com/PediasureIndia for information on optimal height and weight (for age) and consult their paediatrician for an accurate growth assessment
Parents can also use this page to access quick tips on how to beat fussy eating and share experiences with others
Parents who want to know more about nutrition can call a toll-free number 1800-22-0046 from anywhere in India to seek personalised expert nutrition counselling, or log on to www.suremoms.in