Half of SA kids overweight, says Nestlé survey

An online survey by Nestlé South Africa, to probe South African families’ breakfast habits, has revealed some surprising results.

Astoundingly, only six percent of moms believed that their children were overweight. But when looking at the bigger picture, South Africa is on its way to overtaking America as the world’s fattest nation. Nearly half of South Africans over the age of 15 are overweight or obese.

When parents were asked if they sent their children off to school with full tummies, the majority responded positively. However, 95 percent worried that their children are leaving home with a less than nutritious breakfast. And they were concerned that this would negatively impact their performance at school.

Most parents think they should be feeding their children fruit and yoghurt, believing this to be the healthiest breakfast option. While yoghurt and fruit is a good choice, it’s a meal that contains 45 grams of sugar – more than three times the amount of sugar found in a bowl of sweetened cereal with milk.

Parents are aware of the health benefits of wholegrain cereals. Just under half the respondents in Nestlé’s survey said they felt happier when their children ate wholegrains for breakfast. Oats were an especially popular choice. Wholegrains contain essential vitamins, minerals and fibre for good health.

South African parents are clearly not fans of the infamous Atkins diet, as a breakfast of egg and bacon only got six percent of the vote in terms of what they think is most healthy for their kids.

Says Anne-Marié De Beer, nutritionist for Nestlé South Africa: “Parents are becoming savvier about what they feed their children for breakfast. Gone are the days of sugary jams, white toast and greasy egg and bacon. Parents want to give their kids a healthier breakfast so they can really perform well at school. A quick and easy way to give children a healthy start is to choose breakfast cereals high in wholegrains.”

(Issued by Nestlé South Africa, March 2010)

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