Despite a parent’s best attempts, sometimes a child doesn’t have much of an appetite for a variety of reasons. This means that the child may be missing out on some of the nutrients they need for growth and development and may be losing weight. According to Yvette Gaughan, MS, RDN, Medical Affairs Associate Manager, at Nestlé Health Science, parents can help by discussing their child’s nutrition intake with their pediatrician to help uncover the contributing factor/s and refer to a specialist, such as, a registered dietitian nutritionist. If nutrition intake is decreased and there are signs of delayed growth and development including weight loss, a calorie and protein-containing nutrition supplement may be recommended.
“That’s when the doctor might say to the parent,” says Gaughan, “Johnny’s BMI (Body Mass Index) is low and he’s not growing at the rate expected for his age. Maybe it’s time to add more nutrition to his diet.” This may pose additional stress to parents wondering how they will get their child to drink the supplemental nutrition. Parents may ask, “My child won’t eat much to begin with, so how am I going to get him to drink an oral nutrition supplement?’”
A variety of medically-related reasons may lead to a child’s decreased food intake including but not limited to:
Compared to foods, supplemental oral nutrition may be a good choice in these cases because they provide the needed calories and protein in a relatively small volume in addition to vitamins and minerals to help meet the nutritional needs. If you are concerned about your child’s eating habits, be sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician.
Engaging your child in nutritional options
When your child won’t eat, one way of involving them in their nutritional options is by giving them a role in the decision-making process about which oral nutritional drink, whether it be a particular brand or flavor. “It just makes sense,” says Jenny Lewis, Marketing Manager at Nestlé Health Science, who oversaw the development of the revised formula for BOOST® Kids Essentials™ nutritional drink, a popular nutritional drink. “If children have a say in the product choice, they may be more likely to drink it.”
Attractive, non-medical looking packaging is also important. The oral nutrition drink packaging has to look like what their friends are drinking. It is important for them to be able to blend in with peers as they are getting their supplemental nutrition at school. Kids don’t want to feel like they’re taking medication, and they don’t want to feel different from their friends. “That is the reason we revamped our packaging, in addition to changing up the formula. Kids care about what is on the outside as well as the inside of the box,” adds Lewis.
For more on the subject of engaging your child in their nutrition therapy, be sure to read the short article, Empowering Children with Health Challenges.
Making the parent’s job easier with new packaging
“When we revised our oral nutritional drink packaging,” says Lewis, “we looked for a graphic that would appeal to a broad age range of children and not feel babyish to preteens. After all, BOOST® Kids Essentials™ drinks are for children ages 1 to 13. Rather than use a cartoon animal, we feature a pair of superheroes on the carton. We use both a boy and girl superhero on the package, to keep away from gender stereotypes. And to spice things up, we replaced our little product splash with a playful, giant splat. We wanted to make it easier for parents to encourage their children to get the nutrition they need.”
It is not only parents who may see a benefit, the new packaging graphics may help the hospital-based dietitian’s role easier. According to Gaughan, “Many children are introduced to oral nutritional drinks when the carton appears on their hospital tray. When we showed the new BOOST® Kids Essentials™ drink packaging to a group of hospital-based dietitians, they were hopeful that it might entice children to drink up!”
A new oral nutritional supplement formula
As part of Nestlé Health Science’s focus on promoting healthier eating, the company is revising many of its products to have fewer, simpler ingredients and less sugar. BOOST® Kids Essentials™ has simply 10-12 ingredients, 9 grams of sugar and no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners (BOOST® Kids Essentials™ varies by the flavor and amount of calories).
“We know that parents have a strong interest in feeding their children healthier foods,” says Anna Mohl, Business Executive Officer, USA at Nestlé Health Science. “Across our product lines, we are looking to use fewer ingredients with names that people can better understand. We’ve also reduced the levels of added sugars in a number of our products, like BOOST® Kids Essentials™ drink. In other cases, like Compleat® Organic Blends formulas, we have used organic fruits, vegetables and meats.” Read about how the organic food trend has come to tube feeding.
“These efforts,” continues Mohl, “are all part of our company-wide Nestlé for Healthier Kids initiative. Globally, it is the ambition of Nestlé to help 50 million children lead healthier lives by 2030. Providing tastier and healthier products like our reformulated BOOST® Kids Essentials™ drink is an important step in making this goal a reality.”