Who’s responsible for these pill-popping kids?
Remember when you were a kid and your parents would give you Vitamin C for a cold? The deliciously sour orange flavour. These were what I’d nick from the cupboard before I discovered the liquour cabinet.
Sales of kids’ vitamins were up 20 per cent last year. They disguise those nasty, healthy vitamins in kid-friendly packaging. In chocolate coating or hidden in gummy bears.
The Blackmores’ children’s range is called ‘Blackmores’ little helpers’. Doesn’t every parent want a little helper?
The claims are bright, chirpy, and vague. There’s one for fussy eaters, one for immunity. Better concentration! Healthy brains!
As with any marketing worth its salt-free salt, it must leave consumers thinking if they DON’T get on the pill-popping bandwagon they’re leaving their kids without immunity, with lax concentration, unhealthy brains.
Create the need, then fulfil it.
The parents can’t escape responsibility, of course. Only one in five kids aged 4-8 is eating enough vegies. And whose fault is that? It must be hard to have fussy eaters, but a pill is not going to fix it.
There’s plenty of science around vitamin supplements. If you’re deficient and can’t get the nutrition you need from food, take them. There’s some good – if mixed - evidence that Omega 3s have benefits.
Generally you should get everything you need from a proper balanced diet. You need the fibre, too, for a start. Vitamins are not a replacement.
They are everywhere, though. Overmarketed and oversold. Have you looked in your pharmacy recently? Reams of them, promising healthy nails, healthy hair, better memory. There’s one for ‘executive stress’ (I fell for that one. Well, there is some evidence magnesium can help).
Nature’s Own have a range for kids as well. As an aside the founder and former head Vaughan Bullivant owned two “palatial homes” on the Scarborough foreshore. He sold one, and now owns Daydream Island Resort and Spa.
Nature’s Own also run the ‘Vitamin Angels’ charity, which gives vitamins to kids in developing countries. Which is lovely. And good marketing.
Parents shouldn’t fall for the marketing. And the marketing should be more responsible.
Much of this is a symptom of our quick-fix society, where we want Priceline to stock the cure to all our ills. We want someone else to be responsible for our health, our happiness – we want to be able to buy the answers.
We have a big problem in this country with obesity, with children – and their parents – too often sitting around in front of screens eating crap when they should be running around outside and eating health, unprocessed food.
It’s a problem. But pills in brightly coloured bottles are not the answer.
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