A survey on awareness levels of parents about junk food has found that a majority of them are influenced by advertisements that make claims about being 'healthy food'.
According to the three-month survey conducted by Podar Jumbo Kids among 2,000 mothers across its 140 pre-school centres in the city last month, 80% said exposure to advertisements resulted in unhealthy food habits among children while 72% agreed that children eat unhealthy food. The survey also revealed that 80% mothers fed their children while watching television.
The survey about nutrition of children aged 3-6 years comprised questions such as what they ate for lunch and what was their daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
"Through general classroom conversations, teachers found that most students ate junk food regularly," said Swati Popat Vats, director, Podar Jumbo Kids. "The survey was conducted to provide nutritional guidance for children in their formative years."
Junk food is processed food such as pizza, burgers, soft drinks and candy with high calorific values, but lacks essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. More than 55% of mothers said their children ate pizza and packaged pasta every week while the remaining mentioned popcorn, samosas, and ice cream.
60% mothers said they did not know the recommended food groups. While 20% said they would pack fruits, 45% said their children did not eat fruits daily.
"The majority of the mothers were influenced by advertisements and believed that health drinks met the child's vitamin intake," said Vats. "Many also considered packaged fruit juices to be appropriate substitutes for fruits."
Junk food is now banned across all Podar Jumbo Kids pre-school centres including for birthday celebrations and other events. Teachers are also encouraged to join students for lunch to ensure they eat healthy.