Attitudes towards child nutrition
Parenting styles vary from country to country, but one thing rings true across the world - mothers want what’s best for their children. When it comes to ensuring a healthy start in life, nutrition is the natural place to start. A new survey carried out by DSM has revealed the key priorities mothers have for their children’s health, diets and nutrition, as well as the qualitative behaviors, attitudes, usage patterns and drivers of consumption for nutritionally fortified products.
The Global Kids Usage and Attitude Study surveyed more than 7,400 mothers of children aged 4-12 across 12 countries; the US, China, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Australia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia/UAE and Russia. For nearly half (47%) of women questioned, making sure their child receives enough nutrients is the most important motivation at mealtimes, but the emphasis of this focus varies between countries.
So, here are our 10 most surprising ways mothers’ attitudes towards the nutrition of their children differs globally:
Top ten insights
- Priorities for achieving good health
Moms everywhere are interested in promoting good quality sleep, a nutritious diet and a healthy immune system for their children, but specific priorities vary significantly between countries. In Asia, there is an increased focus on cognitive development compared to Western markets. Mothers in the USA, Europe and Australia view healthy teeth and bones as being central to the health of their children, whereas in India, maintaining energy levels is the most important factor.
- Identifying intolerances
Food allergies and intolerance prevalence varies globally, partly due to how likely moms are to get a formal diagnosis compared to self-diagnosing. In markets where there is formal testing, in countries like Germany (5%) and USA (6%), there are lower reports of allergies compared to much higher levels in markets where self-diagnosis is more common, in countries like Saudi Arabia (23%) and India (27%).
- How moms make mealtimes matter
For the majority of moms, nutrition is the key focus at mealtimes, but there’s more to it than just the food on the table. In Western countries, like the US and Germany, mealtimes represent an opportunity for families to spend quality time together. In Brazil and India, eating at the right time of day is vitally important.
- Picky eaters are a common challenge
More often than not, kids have a say in what food they eat at each meal no matter where you are in the world. Given that the global average of children who are picky eaters sits at 39%, allowing children to have a say in what foods they consume at mealtimes would seem to be a reasonable strategy. Children in India, Russia and the Middle East are more than twice as likely to be picky eaters than kids from Thailand and as such, must find innovative ways to ensure their child receives the nutrients they need for optimal growth and development.
- Gut instinct for digestive health
Healthy digestion and the effective absorption of nutrients is a key concern for one in ten moms. This is especially true in China because of the close link between nutrition, digestion and traditional Chinese Medicine. Preventing constipation and stomach upsets are areas of interest, especially for mothers in Russia, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Foods with messaging around these health benefits appeal to moms. For example, products with ‘added fiber’ are appealing in most markets; however, Middle Eastern mothers prefer more direct benefits such as ‘helps prevent constipation.’
- Safeguarding immunity
Immune health is closely tied to wellbeing and safety, a core maternal driver across the world. All markets welcome immune health claims on food and beverages, but for mothers in Russia and Asia Pacific, immunity is a top concern. Russian mothers are nearly three times more concerned about immune health than moms from Western countries like the US, Germany and Australia.
- Natural vs. organic claims
Across the board, most mothers surveyed reported that they frequently look for products labelled as being natural. Interestingly, the figures surrounding organic claims are not so uniform. Mothers from Western Markets such as the USA, Australia and Germany were significantly less likely to take into an account whether or not a product is labelled organic. Most mothers in all other markets surveyed placed high importance on such claims. In Asia Pacific approximately 80% of mothers typically look for organic claims.
- Mental health matters
There is a growing focus on the importance of mental health; however, mothers’ specific interests vary globally. In China and Asia Pacific, moms are principally concerned with maintaining a good mood, whereas mothers in Russia, Europe and the Middle East are looking for ways to avoid or minimize stress. Another key area of interest is anxiety prevention, which was primarily reported by mothers in the USA, Australia and Europe.
- Sustaining healthy growth
Naturally, all mothers want their children to grow and thrive, but the focus of their concern differs globally. Asian moms are particularly concerned with height, whereas elsewhere it’s healthy bones and teeth that take priority. Maintaining a healthy weight has different implications in different countries. In China, India and Vietnam especially, mothers are more concerned about their kids being underweight than overweight. This translates to a particular interest in foods with added protein and calcium for healthy growth and development.
- A focus on supplements
While supplementation is prevalent amongst Asian mothers, this is not the case for moms from Europe and the USA. In fact, Western moms are at least three times less likely to offer supplements to their kids than Chinese mothers. In general, the key reason mothers don’t give their children supplements is the belief that their child’s diet provides the required nutrition for optimal health.