Clif Kid survey: Parents unfamiliar with good nutrition for children

EMERYVILLE, Calif. — Clif Kid on Tuesday released the results of a national survey that found that consumers are confused about nutrition labels; specifically, appropriate quantities of nutrients and nutrition terminology causes frustration among parents when it comes to feeding their kids.

“We found that parents have good intentions but may not be giving their kids the right nutrition because they are uncertain about portion sizes and how to read nutrition labels,” stated Tara DelloIacono-Thies, registered dietitian for Clif Kid. “That’s why Clif Kid makes sure each snack has the right amount of nutrients for kids up to age 12. This means, even though nutrition labels must state the percentage of nutrients for an adult-sized diet, parents can feel secure knowing that the amounts in a Clif Kid snack are appropriate for kids’ healthy growth.”

As many as 42% of parents said reading nutrition labels is more difficult than reading assembly instructions for furniture. Many parents may not be reading the labels at all, as 42% don’t know that nutrition labels are based on a 2,000-calorie adult diet, which can represent 53% more calories than are recommended for a 6-year-old girl, Clif Kid noted.

When it comes to food quantities, the majority of parents (72%) were not aware that the American Dietetic Association’s recommended daily caloric intake changes by gender at 4 years old. In fact, most parents were unsure how much of any particular nutrient their kid should consume. At best, 38% thought they could guess the appropriate daily intake for a child’s sugar consumption.

The survey also found that words used to describe fundamentals in nutrition often leave parents with a lack of confidence. Almost half (45%) of parents didn't know how much food is in a “single serving.” The term “grams” is another source of confusion. For example, three-quarters of parents surveyed did not know how many calories are in one gram of fat — 20% thought it was equal to 100 calories or more, when one gram of fat actually has nine calories. Just more than half (54%) of parents would prefer nutrition labels be expressed in teaspoons or tablespoons, forms of measurement more familiar to them.

While 49% of parents said they ate healthier since having kids, only 15% would describe their kids as “healthy eaters.” Parents found it particularly challenging to feed their kids healthy snacks. In fact, 75% said it’s actually harder to feed their kids healthy snacks than healthy meals.

Overall, 69% parents said it’s important to feed their kids organic or natural food, and more than a third (37%) were making more effort now to do so than three years ago.

The survey, which was conducted by Kelton Research and commissioned by Clif Kid in 2011, targeted 1,009 U.S. parents with children ages 6 to 12 years.

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