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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Parents' healthy food confusion
Image of children at a dinner table
Finding a healthy meal can be difficult
Many parents struggle to know which foods are healthy for their children, a survey shows.

When they are able to opt for healthy choices, about two-thirds struggle to get their children to eat healthily, a poll of nearly 800 parents found.

Developing Patient Partnerships, which commissioned the survey, said parents need more support to tackle the growing problem of childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 20 years, official figures show.

In order to get their family on track to a healthy lifestyle parents need support and tools to help them
Dr David Wrigley, Developing Patient Partnerships
Of the parents of children aged 15 years and younger questioned by the DPP, 45% said they found it difficult to work out which foods were healthy for their children.

When parents did select healthy foods, 65% said they struggled to motivate their children to eat it.

Three-quarters of parents blamed advertising and marketing of unhealthy snacks and drinks for making this job so difficult.

Another 87% believed that schools should play a big role in teaching children how to be healthy.

Obesity risk

When more than a thousand children aged seven to 16 were questioned about their lifestyles, 70% said they would be more likely to eat healthily and get active if their parents were doing it.

Only 16% said they ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

Dr David Wrigley from the DPP said: "The power of parents to influence their children's behaviour simply by doing it themselves is clear from these findings.

"In order to get their family on track to a healthy lifestyle parents need support and tools to help them.

Dr Ian Campbell from the National Obesity Forum said: "Parents, schools, health professionals, the media, food manufacturers and the government all have an important role to play in reducing the risk to children's lives from obesity."

The DPP and the National Obesity Forum have developed a website, www.sussed.uk.net, aimed to help parents and children eat more healthily.

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