The biggest concern, today, for parents is whether their child is receiving adequate nutrition needed for growth and development. To address this concern, Abbott Nutrition conducted a survey across four metros to observe fussy eating behaviour in children. And the findings are truly alarming. The survey suggests that seven out of 10 children in the 2 to 10 year age group have below-median growth parameters (growth measured here as height and weight) and as many as 45% of these children are nutritionally at-risk.
Key findings of the survey:
- 70% (seven out of 10; 844 children of 1,181 survey respondents) of the children who participated in the survey were below the median growth parameters (of either height or weight or both).
- A significant percentage of these below-median children (61%) were found to be fussy eaters.
- Fussy Eating seen to strike more in early ages, with 61% of children in the 2-4 years age group in the survey observed to be Fussy Eaters.
- Fussy eating was observed most in the more affluent Socio-Economic classes, such as SEC A households (62%) as compared to the lower SEC C & D (54%) households.
- Strong food likes/dislikes, consuming a limited number of food items and refusal to eat vegetables and/or foods from other food groups were the top three fussy eating behaviours observed in the survey.
Dr Bhaskar Raju, paediatrician at Mehta's Hospitals, Chennai, states "A single observation of below-median weight is probably not alarming. These findings highlight the need to track growth in children regularly to ensure they do not progressively fall below the median, which will put them at risk nutritionally. Many children surveyed were below the 15th percentile and at risk of undernourishment, and all its future consequences. What's more, some may be approaching the 3rd percentile, which is the WHO cut off for malnourishment".
How to ascertain a child's growth?
- Chennai had the highest percentage of below-median children (83%), below 15th percentile children (61%) and Fussy Eaters (73%).
- Mumbai observed to have a high percentage of below-median children (78% failing on either height or weight or both) and below 15th percentile children (45%, nutritionally at-risk). Mumbai had the lowest percentage of fussy eaters (36%) but the proportion of fussy eaters falling below the 15th percentile on weight was the highest (45%).
- New Delhi had 67% of respondents below-median growth parameters, 38% were below the 15th percentile and 64% of the city's respondents were observed to be fussy eaters.
- Kolkata had the lowest percentage of children with below-median growth (56%) and children below 15th percentile (34%). However, a high percentage of Fussy Eaters (73%) was found.
If a child exhibits any of the afore-mentioned behaviours, chances are that s/he may be a fussy eater.
To confirm if a child is growing right for his/her age, parents can visit www.facebook.com/PediasureIndia
for information on optimal height and weight (for age) and consult their paediatrician for an accurate growth assessment.
Parents who want to know more about nutrition can log on to www.suremoms.in
*Below-median growth parameters refer to below-median height or below-median weight or below median height and weight, for age as per World Health Organisation Child Growth Standards. The Indian Academy of Paediatricsadvises the use of WHO growth charts for monitoring growth in Indian children
http://www.who.int/childgrowth/standards/en/(Accessed on 25th February 2014): Below-median, also known as below-50th percentile as per the WHO Child Growth Standards for height for age, weight for age or both (considered here for children between 2 to 10 years). The median or the 50th percentile for height (or weight) in a population would mean that height (or weight) of 50% of individuals is above and 49% of individuals is below this value.
Data from a 6-city study commissioned by Abbott to understand the issues relating to fussy eating behaviour in children. Mothers in 6 metros across India were administered a detailed questionnaire around their children's eating habits (Feb 2012).
http://www.who.int/childgrowth/standards/en/(Accessed on 25th February 2014): WHO does not specify the 15th percentile as a cut-off for under-nourishment. It has been considered as a cut-off for the purposes of this survey as it relatively closer to the 3rd percentile. As per WHO Child Growth Standards, children falling below the 3rd percentile are at risk of malnutrition.