More than half (55%) of parents want to introduce more plant-based proteins to their children, but they don’t know how to incorporate them into their children’s diets, according to a new survey. This is part of the challenge of introducing new foods to young children.
The study by One Poll, commissioned by popular baby food brand Gerber, included a survey of 2,000 new parents and found that 55% of them were picky eaters and were reluctant to try new foods, with most parents (83%) worried about them of children may not be getting the nutrients they need because of their picky eaters.
67% of parents want their children to explore new foods, such as plant-based protein, but it’s no surprise that 40% of parents feel stressed when offering their children unfamiliar foods. With this in mind, 55% of parents are also struggling to find foods that are nutritious, fun, tasty and safe to feed their kids. About the same number (54%) of parents also admit that they don’t know enough about the nutrients in plant-based foods to confidently feed them to their children.
Gerber President and CEO Tarun Malkani said in a statement:
“We’ve heard from parents that they want more plant-based options that match their food value. That’s why we want to reassure parents that there are more nutritious, developmentally-friendly options so they can provide their children with A varied diet.”
Additionally, 62% of parents believe it is important for their children to explore new foods. At the same time, 55% said it was important for their children to eat the same diet as them.
How to get your kids to eat more plant protein.
While getting kids to eat more vegetables can be difficult, parents surveyed said plant-based foods come from five sources, including plant-based meat substitutes (39%), different grains and legumes (36%), plant-based Bread (35%), citrus fruit (33%) and plant-based cooked food (32%).
Can kids who eat plant-based diets be healthy?
As more parents practice plant-based diets with their children, a health study published earlier this year in the medical journal Pediatrics shows that children who eat a plant-based diet have similar growth to those who eat meat and nutritional indicators. The study authors, researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, found that despite the growing popularity of plant-based diets, very little research has been done in the region.
The researchers found that children who ate a plant-based diet had similar mean body mass index (BMI), height, iron, vitamin D and cholesterol levels compared to children who ate meat. The findings also showed that children on a plant-based diet had higher odds of being underweight, defined as underweight below the third percentile of BMI. However, studies have not found a link between children on plant-based diets and being overweight or obese — obesity can be associated with many health problems.
The study suggests that plant-based diets may be suitable for children, but the researchers also highlight access to health care providers who can provide growth monitoring, education and guidance to support children’s growth and nutrition. “A plant-based eating pattern is considered a healthy eating pattern due to increased intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber, whole grains, and reduced saturated fat; however, few studies have evaluated the effects of plant-based diets on children growth and nutritional status,” Dr. Jonathan Maguire, a pediatrician and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Plant-based diets seem to work for most kids.”