Study shows half of parents give their children dietary supplements

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Over half of the parents surveyed in a recent study said that it’s difficult to provide their child with a well-balanced diet, and half indicated that they regularly give their children dietary supplements.

The report was conducted by the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. To gauge the percentage of parents who give their children supplements, researchers at the University of Michigan asked a national sample of 1,251 parents with at least one child aged one to 10 about their children’s diet and their children’s use of supplements.

The results from the survey showed that over half of parents have difficulty getting their child to eat healthy food. Approximately one third of parents reported that their child was a picky eater. In addition, one third of parents said their child does not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Thirteen percent of the parents polled suggested that their child isn’t getting enough vitamins and minerals and nine percent reported that their child’s diet needs more fiber. Half of parents also reported that it was more expensive to provide their child with a well-balanced diet.

Most of the parents polled had given their child supplements including multivitamins, probiotics, or omega 3 supplements. One third of parents said they had tried to give their children supplements regularly but it did not work out. Four in five parents who had given their child a supplement, reported that they bought a supplement marketed for children.

Less than half of parents consulted with their child’s healthcare provider before giving their kids the supplement. According to the report, parents from lower income households were less likely to discuss supplement use with their children’s healthcare provider, compared to parents from higher income households.

This report suggests that a large portion of parents give their children supplements without speaking with their child’s doctor. Because supplements are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, they do not receive the same level of testing and approval. The report’s authors stressed that it’s important that parents are informed by a professional before they give supplements to their child.

“Providers should be diligent about discussing nutrition with families so they understand what a healthy diet should include and are using supplements appropriately,” Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark, MPH in a statement. “In situations where families can’t afford to provide a healthy diet, providers may direct parents to social service programs that can help.”