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Parents would sooner let their kids snack on junk food than calcium-rich foods, study finds – The Mirror

4 minutes, 9 seconds Read

One in four parents are concerned about the sugar content in children’s yoghurts – and would sooner let their youngsters reach for junk food, like crisps or biscuits, to have as a snack, a study has found.

A survey of more than 2,000 mums and dads, with kids aged between four and 10, revealed that yoghurt consumption among little ones has dropped by 12% since 2020 – with children now eating the calcium-rich snack less than twice a week. Nearly a third of those polled (30%) avoid buying yoghurts due to the price, while 15% worry about artificial ingredients.

But worryingly, the decline in the number of children eating yoghurts has also led to over half (53%) of their daily free sugar, or added sugar, intake coming from the likes of sweets, cakes, or sugary drinks. In fact, children are now consuming 47 grams of free sugars a day – but less than 5% of this is coming from nutrient-rich foods, like yoghurts.

In light of the findings, TV star Josie Gibson, and her five-year-old son Reggie, were seen tucking in to some children’s yoghurts – and even sporting the tasty treats as a moustache across the upper lips, replicating the iconic “got milk” ad campaign.

The funny images and video come after a report revealed that parents are more likely to give kids junk food, over a source of calcium, leaving their youngsters at risk of troubling health conditions – such as rickets, endured centuries ago as a result of nutrient deficiencies.

Josie Gibson and her five-year-old son, Reggie, tucked into tasty children's yoghurts, to highlight the importance of dairy in children's diets

Josie Gibson and her five-year-old son, Reggie, tucked into tasty children’s yoghurts, to highlight the importance of dairy in children’s diets
(
PinPep)

Josie, who is working with Yoplait, makers of Petits Filous and Frubes, which commissioned the report, said: “We loved wearing our yoghurt moustaches, it was great fun.

“Since I’ve had Reggie, I’ve been non-stop on the yogs, so its surprising other parents are overlooking them. As a parent, I know it can be hard to get kids to eat well whilst juggling all the other responsibilities you have to worry about.

“I’m quite lucky that Reggie eats quite healthily – but, like most kids, he does tend to reach for sweet treats like chocolate and biscuits first, so I try to encourage him to get something healthier out of the fridge, like a nice yoghurt or fruit and veg.”

The research incorporated data from published scientific studies, Kantar Consumption Panel data, and independent polls of over 2,000 parents and shoppers, commissioned by Yoplait.

It found calcium intakes in children have fallen by 9% in the last 10 years – with 19% of four to 10-year-olds clinically deficient in vitamin D come springtime each year.

According to Yoplait, yoghurt has found itself in the crosshairs, alongside fizzy drinks, biscuits, cakes, and chocolate – which, unlike the dairy product, have high sugar and calories without providing any nutritional benefit.

Dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton, said: “Over the last five years, dairy manufacturers have made significant efforts to decrease the sugar content in children’s yoghurt, reducing it by nearly 14%.

“Unfortunately, sugar reduction remains an unaddressed challenge for many food and beverage companies, and with numerous sugary products still on the market, this could be one of the reasons why children are transitioning from yoghurt, to super-sweet, high-calorie treats.

“Childhood is a crucial window of opportunity to get bone health right for the future. Children need nutrient-rich foods to support their healthy growth and development, but many adults are put off buying yoghurt for their children because they wrongly believe that there are no health benefits.

“Dairy foods, like yoghurt, pack a highly nutritious punch – so it is important that the decline in consumption is not only stopped, but reversed. If children continue to replace healthy foods, like yoghurt, with energy-dense, nutrient-poor substitutes, the toll on their future health is likely to be significant.”

DR CARRIE RUXTON’S TOP TIPS:

  1. Switch biscuits, sweets, and cakes for healthier snacks. Children will invariably reach for the sugary treat whenever it is offered, but that is not to say that they will refuse healthier alternatives. Besides being healthy and nutrient-dense, kids’ yoghurt can double up as a treat when the kids fancy one.
  2. Cater to kids’ unique nutritional needs. Children have specific dietary requirements for their unique growth and development needs. So, choosing child-appropriate products is a priority, especially those rich in vitamin D and calcium. Adult and dessert-type yoghurts tend to be higher in sugar and more energy-dense, and are not designed to meet the nutritional needs of children.
  3. Make calories count, by selecting nutrient-rich foods and snacks. Most parents will have heard of the concept of “empty calories”, which refers to foods that are high in calories but low in essential nutrients. While these may satisfy immediate hunger pangs, they don’t provide the protein, vitamins, or minerals that children’s bodies need. Nutrient-rich foods, such as yoghurt, fresh fruit pieces, vegetable sticks, and cheese, are a far better option when it comes to kids’ snack time.

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