Fussy eaters abound in families as Mum takes reins in kitchen

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 24th June 2009

Nearly 40% of Aussie mums are raising fussy eaters – a problem that’s costing time, money and extra effort in the kitchen, the Nestlé National Voice of Aussie Mums* survey has found. The survey of 16,597 mothers by the world’s largest food group also discovered that mothers still take on more than their fair share of cooking duties, a vital piece of information for food marketers.

Around two in every five (41%) Australian mums have to cook two or three meals each night to ensure their kids actually eat something while 17% of mums are so frustrated they end up just cooking only the foods they know their kids will consume.

“28.5% of Australian mums say they have to cook different meals for different members of the family anyway, fussy feeders apart. Some families struggle with different taste preferences, others have medical reasons, and yet others eat in relays as family members come in at different times of the day and night,” Nestlé’s Corporate Senior Nutritionist, Dr Penny Small, advised.

Dr Small added that finicky feeders were creating a lot of stress for parents.

“Many mums worry that their children are not getting the proper nutrition and some kids have an extremely limited repertoire of foods they will eat. Some mums resort to extraordinary efforts to get their kids to eat, worrying that they will go hungry otherwise,” she said. “Kids can be naturally suspicious and sceptical about new foods.”

Around four in five mums surveyed revealed they do most of the cooking for the family in the home. However, one in ten respondents said the dad in their family unit is undoubtedly the better cook and one third even say their partner is completely clued up when it comes to nutritionally balancing family meals.

According to the research, a mere 3.4% of dads do most of the cooking in their household and only 13% share the cooking 50/50.

Liz Ellis, Nestlé Ambassador, noted that whilst 30% of dads reportedly don’t venture into the kitchen at all, some of those that do (12%), tend to make the same recipes each and every time – which can get quite monotonous. However, improvements were being seen.

“The popularity of chefs like Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson and shows like Masterchef have done a great deal to encourage men to stir the pot as it were and get stuck into the kitchen,” she explained. “With parents under so many time pressures it was encouraging to note that only 6.98% of dads resort to takeaways when it’s their turn to cook.”