London, United Kingdom – Parents in Britain today are more concerned about the economy and the impact of social media on their children than they are about healthy eating and lifestyle, according to a study by Philips.
The company interviewed over 1,500 parents across the UK as part of a global study into attitudes towards family health and well-being found that worries about social media shared the top spot with finances of a list of parental concerns about their children’s future (50% and 43% of parents admitted to be ‘very worried’ or ‘worried’ about these factors*). By contrast, the availability of healthy food, obesity and access to sports or leisure facilities were considered less important when it comes to the future well-being of their children (considered ‘very worrying’ or ‘worrying’ by just 28 %, 24% and 21% of parents).
Considering parenthood itself, the primary concern was again economic, with financial stability (50%) being the most worried about factor, followed by the practical issue of what will happen to children in the event of the parents’ death (47%).
Dr Gerd Götz, from Philips’ Centre of Health and Well-being, explained, “We’ve been talking to mums and dads for decades and there’s always been pressure on them to give their children the best start in life. But as our society gets more complicated, so do their worries. In today’s volatile financial climate and reign of social media it’s understandable that parents are very concerned with the immediate challenges they face on a daily basis. However, do we risk allowing our children to sleepwalk into all manner of health-related issues later on if we fail to tackle some of the bigger health and well-being issues now?”
When it comes to sources of information for health and well-being it appears that parents do not tend to go to official government sources for advice with 19% of mums turning to government websites and less (11%) referring to government brochures or leaflets for information and guidance. The study also notes that 82% of parents do not believe the government plays a key role in the health and well-being of their children.
Doctors remain the most influential source, with 55% of mums citing their GP as their first port of call, however this is only when their child is ‘visibly ill’ and most only visit once a year or less. 46% of mums will turn to their own parents for advice, while 45% will log on to a search engine.
Dr Götz added, “With obesity costing the NHS £4.2 billion a year and expectations this will double by 2050**, this research raises the question whether the government and other influencing parties need to think of alternative ways of educating parents about their child’s health and well-being in order to prevent future issues, which will cost society in the long-term.”
Indeed, the study also suggests that new parents and parents-to-be are unaware of, or are choosing not to make the most of, the family health and well-being support available to them. 77% of mothers-to-be did not attend newborn/child care classes during their pregnancy or just after, with 43% claiming they didn’t think it was necessary. In addition to this, 79% of mothers didn’t attend any breastfeeding classes, with 19% claiming they weren’t aware they were available and 37% not believing them to be necessary.
Vicki Scott, an independent midwife who works with Philips AVENT, commented, “It’s surprising that the majority of mums-to-be and new parents aren’t taking advantage of the resources and information available to them at such a crucial time. This may be for good reasons such as if they have a good support network from family and friends, however the fact that so many are unaware of the additional help they can receive in terms of information and learning about family health suggests that more needs to be done, either through healthcare professionals or the media.”