Childhood obesity: a growing concern in Asia-Pacific

Posted by Josette Dunn on 25th June 2010

The Asia-Pacific region will witness some of the biggest percentage increases in obese and overweight children in the world, finds Datamonitor.

Mother shopping with child

Research by the independent market analyst has found that in China, for example, although 15.9% of children aged between 5 and 13 are currently obese or overweight, this will rise by 9.4% year on year to 2014 as expenditure on confectionery and savoury snacks continues to soar.

Richard Parker, senior consumer analyst at Datamonitor, noted that junk food spend is particularly high in Australia: “It is surprising that Aussies are spending so much on both confectionery and savoury snacks. Our figures show that their expenditure is even higher than in the US.”

This reflects the popularity of crisps as a quick and easy treat for kids. Chocolate and sweets are also seen as more of an everyday item for kids in the Asia-Pacific region. “Consumers’ growing disposable incomes as well as their desire for convenience make crisps and sweets an appealing option for time-starved parents,” says Parker, based in London.

Despite increasing junk food spend, Datamonitor research reveals that parents in Australia are particularly concerned about diet, with 69% of consumers with children reporting that they are trying to eat more healthily, compared to 59% in China and 44% in South Korea.

“While Australian kids are consuming high levels of chocolate and snacks, parents aren’t naïve when it comes to childhood nutrition,” adds Parker, based in London. Indeed, 54% of Australian parents are limiting the amount of processed food they eat. They are also the least likely in Asia-Pacific to trust food and drinks aimed at children.”

“With few Australian parents trusting products aimed at children there is a danger of them being overwhelmed by the increasing number of health claims made by new brands and products, such as functional foods and drinks which promise to improve concentration and brain function.”

“Our research has found that simple health messages are more likely to win trust and encourage parents to buy. Simultaneously, children must be encouraged to like healthy products on their own merits, without parental influence to encourage long term healthy eating patterns,” concludes Parker.