MAIDENHEAD, UK, December 17, 2019 – With fussy eating common among young children and many families about to sit down to a traditional Christmas dinner with sprouts and carrots, food ‘fairy tales’ will become a regular feature at dinner tables across the nation, as parents get creative in encouraging their children to eat. According to a new survey1 from Abbott PaediaSure Shake, 8 in 10 parents (82%) with children under 10 years old tell these tales, with 1 in 8 – or 1.2 million2 – of those having to tell them at every single meal.
Rebecca Stevenson, paediatric dietitian and UK medical director for Abbott’s nutrition business, comments: “From generation to generation, we’ve been honing our creative storytelling skills to persuade our children to eat nutritionally balanced diets to support their growth and development through their most critical ages: one to 10 years, when 70% of growth4 occurs.”
The most popular food fairy tale half of parents (51%) tell their children today is “milk makes your bones strong”, with an impressive success rate working every time or most of the time for three-quarters of parents (75%). This is followed by “carrots help you see in the dark” and “eating your greens will help you grow big and strong”, both with a 59% success rate.
The other top tales of today’s parents use to get creative and encourage their little ones to eat include:
- Fish is brain food and makes you clever
- Spinach makes you strong, like Popeye
- Bread crusts make your hair curly
- Cheese before bedtime gives you nightmares
- Eating fish makes you swim like a mermaid/swim quicker
Parents have always looked to encourage their children to eat well to aid their growth and development in the critical childhood years. It seems those stay with us and not much has changed over the years in terms of the tales we tell. When we asked today’s parents the top three tales they were told by their own parents when they were children, they listed the following:
- Carrots help you see in the dark
- Milk makes your bones grow strong
- Eating your greens will help you grow big and strong
While the classics prevail, today’s mums and dads recall some of the more weird and wonderful creative tales they were told when they were little and needed encouragement from their parents at mealtimes. These include:
- “Sprouts are orphaned baby cabbages and will be sad and abandoned if you don’t eat them”
- “Eating greens stops you getting spots”
- “Carrots will turn your skin orange”
And with good reason. Fussy eating is very common; research shows that up to 60% of children have fussy eating issues, whether refusing to eat certain foods, a lack of interest in food, eating particularly slowly or a reduced appetite altogether.
Rebecca Stevenson adds: “For anyone experiencing tricky mealtimes with their children, Abbott has developed PaediaSure Shake. Designed by our experts, PaediaSure Shake helps fill any nutrient gaps your child may have in their diet, helping to support their growth and development, especially during periods of change, fussy eating, illness, and even peaks of activity which put extra demands on their bodies. It can give parents peace of mind while children get on with their fun-packed, busy lives over the festive period.”