Most parents don’t think standard American diet is healthy for children – The Hill

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Story at a glance

  • New poll findings from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital show that most parents don’t think the standard American diet is healthy for kids.

  • This could mean that most parents recognize that the typical American diet is rich in unhealthy things like saturated fats, added sugars, sodium and refined carbohydrates.

  • But most parents try to pass along healthy eating habits to their kids in some way.  

About a third of parents think the standard American diet is healthy for kids, according to new poll findings.  

The University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital polled 1,083 parents with at least one child between the ages of three and 10 about food and diet choices.  

The poll’s findings may reflect parents’ recognition that the standard American diet is “characterized by high amounts of saturated fats, added sugars, sodium, and refined carbohydrates, which can generate an excess intake of calories beyond nutritional needs,” according to a report released along with the Mott poll’s findings.   

But most parents take steps to teach their children healthy eating habits, poll findings show.  

Most parents say when grocery shopping or meal planning, they try to limit certain foods like those with added sugar or fat to help keep their child’s diet healthy.  

According to the poll, 59 percent of parents say they limit foods with added sugars, 54 percent say they limit processed foods, 17 percent say they try to control how much food with fat they buy and 8 percent say they limit meat.  

Almost all parents—94 percent—report trying to ensure their child’s diet is healthy by getting them to eat vegetables. 

Almost sixty percent of parents report trying to get their child to eat vegetables by serving them greens every day. Meanwhile, 41 percent say they try this by allowing their child to pick out vegetables at the store or prepare them at mealtimes.  

A quarter of parents, though, have resorted to sneakier measures—25 percent say they have tried getting their child to eat vegetables by hiding them in their food or by offering a reward for eating vegetables. 

When it comes to portion control, 69 percent of parents give their child slightly less food than adults in the family.  

Less than a quarter of parents allow their child to choose how much food to take while 5 percent of parents use predetermined portions from packages, according to the poll.  

A very small percentage—3 percent—give their child the same portions as adults.  

Just 15 percent of parents say they force their child to finish whatever food is on their place, while 54 percent say their family rule is to “try some of everything.” 

Another 31 percent of parents say their family rule is no dessert if their child hasn’t finished dinner.  

Most parents—71 percent—allow their child to have seconds, but 21 percent will only allow this if the child has finished everything on their plate. 

Another 6 percent of parents will only allow their child to have seconds for just healthy items of food.  

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