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Times of India
07 November 2011
By Pratibha Masand

Noodles, Pasta & Packaged Foods Edging Out Healthy Options: Survey

Traditional snacks have long fallen out of favour. Gone are the days when kids lapped up kanda poha, upma or dhokla. Urban kids and teenagers prefer instant noodles and pasta for snacks, followed by sandwiches, biscuits or chips.

A recent study finds instant noodles and pasta rank much higher than poha, upma and idli as snacking favourites for kids. The study done on 1,000 respondents across five metros—Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai—says biscuits and khari top the list of pre-dinner snacks kids want on a daily basis. While instant noodles and pasta rank third, poha, upma and idlis rank ninth on the list for urban kids.

Mumbai kids have bad snack habits

The trend however, is unnerving in Mumbai, where almost half the kids have unhealthy snacks everyday. Besides soups and fruits, which rank first and third respectively among Mumbai kids, chips, sandwiches, pakodas, samosas, kachoris and vada pao are other hot favourites. Though vegetable salads, sprouts, juices and milk shakes also feature in the top 10, Mumbai kids don’t have very good snacking habits, say nutritionists.

“Children just do not want to have traditional snacks. They have developed a taste for junk or fast food, prolonged consumption of which ends up causing health problems later in life,” said nutritionist Vibha Kapadia.

The study reveals while some mothers are very conscious about the food their kids eat, others consciously chose packaged food. Nutritionists say lack of time may be why mothers opt for ready-to-cook food.“Today,urban women are not mothers alone. They are working mothers. Thus, when they get an option of processed food, they go for it rather than spending time on preparing a traditional snack from scratch,” said Sonal Modi, nutritionist from Diabetes Endocrine Nutrition Management and Research Centre (DENMARC).

Mumbai kids have bad snack habits

Another reason, say nutritionists, is that brands now realise the importance of nutrition, and advertise products accordingly. “The added micronutrients or vitamins that brands advertise in their products are very attractive to working mothers who do not have time to make traditional snacks,” Modi said.

“For instance, energy drinks have a high quantity of sugar which can be harmful in the long run. Packaged fruit juices have preservatives which should not be consumed regularly or in high quantities,” she said. Nutritionists say when not given instant food at home, kids—especially teenagers—end up having junk from outside. “Children have an acquired taste for instant food. It is quite difficult to change tastes overnight,” said Kapadia. The study, done by AC Nielsen in collaboration with Knorr, also found that more Mumbaikars tend to eat dinner later and thus their snack timings too are pushed to about 7-8pm.

Mumbai Mothers’ Ideal Snack Parameters
Snacks should be tasty They should be value for money They should be convenient and quick to prepare Entire family can eat it Should be low calorie Should be easy to digest Should be light but filling (Source: A survey on kids’ snacking habits) How Snacks Can Be Made Nutritious

Give them cereal with milk, but do not add a lot of sugar. Instead, crush dates and add it to sweeten the milk Give them bread preparations like sandwich, subs or toast only once a week. Use brown bread instead of white Make shallow fried cutlets with less potato and lots of vegetables. Roll it in a roti to make a frankie Include utappam, idli or dosa in your snack at least once a week Modify burgers with wheat buns and shallow fried cutlets Make tachos with corn flour instead of maida and bake them Steam dahi vadas and add freshly prepared chutneys. You can include spinach in the chutney, so that kids get the nutrition without knowing they are eating spinach

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