Fear of heart disease is the primary motivator when parents look to improve their youngsters’ diets, research from Ipsos has found.

Thirty-one percent of parents polled in the study said a healthy heart was the key benefit a balanced diet for kids. That was well ahead of considerations such as “reduced risk of disease later in life”, cited by 18% of those polled, and “better brain development” (17%).

Avoiding obesity was highlighted as the key concern by just 14%, although that proportion was significantly higher among mothers than fathers.

“We consistently hear about the rising problem of childhood obesity, but is this really the biggest focus parents have when it comes to their child’s nutrition?” said Ipsos Marketing managing director Susan Malcolm.

“Parents clearly care more about what is on the inside than just the visible effect of their children’s diet.”

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