The Scoop on new The Wiggles kids food range – by guest expert Dr Fiona Pelly APDFood Flash — By Emma Stirling on June 27, 2012 at 9:37 am
More on our vegetable love affair this week….as we look at tempting toddlers. If you served a fussy toddler a meal that has the thumbs-up from The Wiggles would it make a difference? This week, on the day of the launch of their new food range, we catch up with a dietitian expert on food for kids, and yes, The Wiggles.
Dr Fiona Pelly is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with over 20 years experience. She is consultant dietitian for The Wiggles and discipline leader in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Internationally recognised for her expertise in foodservice for athletes, she has reviewed menus for four Olympic and two Commonwealth Games over the past decade.
Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy
Many of you may wonder why a dietitian works with The Wiggles? As well as keeping the guys in skivvy wearing shape, I joined the team 10 years ago to ensure their nutritional messages were right for young children.
As early childhood educators and parents, The Wiggles are passionate about promoting healthy eating and importantly recognising that food can be tasty and fun. Together we’ve achieved some great milestones including creating healthy food menus for the Wiggly Play Centres and the Yummy Yummy Café at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, and this week launching the Healtheries The Wiggles food range of healthy meals and snacks.
I’m currently leading a research project investigating nutrition labeling on packaged food for children. Our research (12,000 parent/carers of 1-5 year olds) shows endorsement of packaged food with The Wiggles characters can influence parent’s food choice. 86 percent of parents said a product featuring a Wiggles’ characters would promote food acceptance, even if their child was a fussy eater. Parents also strongly supported Wiggles product endorsement as an excellent way to promote consumption of healthy foods among 1-5 year olds. 94 per cent of parents/carers rated nutrition labelling as essential in choosing food for their children. Checking the sugar content of food was the number one priority for most parents/carers when shopping for their children, followed by fat and energy.
Managing The Wiggle’s Magic Touch
So we clearly know The Wiggles can make a difference when it comes to fussy little eaters and managing this magic touch is a huge responsibility, and one I personally take very seriously.
We want to ensure any food product featuring a Wiggles’ character provides appropriate nutrition content and offers a healthy choice parents can buy with confidence. To do this we created The Wiggles Nutrition Guidelines for Children’s Foods – strict criteria drafted by myself and reviewed by and expert panel. The Guidelines are based on current scientific evidence and government recommendations for the nutrient requirements and healthy eating practices of young children. They also ensure all products clearly explain their place as part of a healthy balance diet by using our “Thumbs – Up” guide.
Two thumbs: for “everyday foods” such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, dairy, legumes, lean meats, fish and eggs
One thumb: for “sometimes foods” such as snacks that can be enjoyed as part of healthy balanced eating
No thumbs: for “occasional foods” such as treats for special occasions only
Food endorsements and children
As a dietitian, I believe that whole foods should form the basis of healthy eating. However, in reality most of us will purchase varying amounts of packaged food simply for convenience. When it comes to packaged foods and children, we know that even fussy eaters can be enticed to try a new food simply through the use of characters they know and like. From the nutrition expert’s perspective, this can be a positive or negative.
Refreshingly, given the increasing nutrition awareness among parents and consumers in general, we’re seeing more companies taking responsibility to establish a credible approach to food endorsement. In the US, Disney has developed nutrient criteria for any food endorsement and guidelines for advertising food on the Disney channel – it’s even received support from Michelle Obama.
New The Wiggles food range
The new range launched by Healtheries and The Wiggles includes pot meals with hidden veggies. Each pot contains more than a serve of vegetables and in meals like the baked beans, the sauce is made from nine different pureed vegetables. We hope The Wiggles’ magic touch may help to smooth the way among little ones who fight the veggie battle. Or at least give parents another strategy to try. Newspoll research released today shows that almost a quarter of mums say getting their children to eat vegetables is actually the most stressful part of their day as a parent. While I emphasise that parents should continue to offer a range of visible vegetables throughout the day, disguising them in meals, such as in pasta sauces, soups and stews can be a useful strategy to boost intakes.
Thanks for sharing the latest news with us Fiona and to The Wiggles as well. Next time we want that photo of you with a skivvy on, we just know you have one! I’m keen to hear the views of our lovely readers? What do YOU think about endorsement on children’s foods? What are your veg tips to toddler tame?