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Pediasure drink boxes to the rescue!

Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Blog Posts | 6 comments

New pediasure for “picky eaters.” Here it is, “Abbott is introducing a new option for picky eaters’ routine with PediaSure SideKicks Clear(1), a refreshing clear nutritional beverage that helps balance out the diet of those picky eaters who are growing fine, but still may be missing nutrients. Moms can also have peace of mind knowing that their picky eaters are receiving a source of protein and 19 vitamins and minerals.

I worry when there are specific products aimed at “picky eaters.” Do you? I often see families getting stuck with Pediasure or Boost, or pureed fruits in squeeze packs. Many parents are not supported in helping children learn to become healthy and happy eaters. These products have the potential to be misused. Has Pediasure or another supplement helped, or slowed things down for your child?

Here are some thoughts from posts I did last year about Pediasure: (There were two posts if you are curious. one and two…)

post one: “I don’t deny that there are some children who really do need nutritional support or even exclusive or supplemental tube feeds (those with certain rare medical or physical conditions,) but that is not who Pediasure is marketing to. They are marketing to the average parent who worries about nutrition, who struggles with feeding and likely a picky child. I would also guess there is an army of attractive sales reps making the rounds with free lunches to pediatricians offices too…

My friend, who’s child fell of the growth curve after a GI illness was instructed to offer food all day long with Pediasure being the central food. She literally chased her toddler around with a sippy-cup full of Pediasure for weeks. It didn’t help and intake continued to suffer. A feeding clinic work-up later, and they were basically sent home with a list of recommendations from Ellyn Satter’s work: structure, no grazing, sit-down meals and snacks, no pressure, Division of Responsibility…”
from post two:
A parent writes in… “Pediasure was recommended to me from a physician when I tried to discuss my child’s picky eating issues. We used it at meal times. It filled him up. He didn’t want or need to eat any other foods at dinner. Almost two years later, I have banned it from my house and am now struggling with an even older and pickier eater thanks to that ill advice. Wish I had learned about D of R long ago. We’re almost 3 months in to D of R and he’s yet to try something new, but my 5 year old has and that gives me hope…”

This is precisely what I am upset about. The family goes in for help. The untrained expert “helps” the best she knows how and problems continue and worsen…

Parents are desperate and will do what they can to help their children.
I do think that the medical professionals are ignorant and pressed for time in that they recommend Pediasure without a thorough understanding of the situation. They have no knowledge about how to even ask about the feeding atmosphere. It’s simply not on their radar (I generalize based on my own experiences, experiences with teaching those in the profession and my client and reader experiences…)

These parents are not lazy at all. In fact they are consumed with worry and expend huge amounts of energy, often in a counterproductive way to help kids with eating. It doesn’t have to be so hard!

My anger, disappointment and accusations are almost 100% directed at the health professionals and the advertisers for Pediasure.

I do think there can be a role for Pediasure but with extreme caution. If children will drink it without pressure, if it helps parents relax and back off pressure, if there is a real concern about nutrients (you would be amazed how many really picky eaters are actually meeting nutritional requirements when there is a full 7 day intake analysis) and if it is given within a framework of addressing feeding in the best way possible, meaning sit-down snacks and meals and no grazing, DOR etc. It’s simply not fair for desperate parents to be given half-measures that may actually make matters worse.

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  1. Laura

    I realize it may not seem like a problem if the child is growing “fine.” But…my daughter’s growth seems fine (per our pediatrician), but her iron is very low (per our pediatrician). The problem here is malnutrition…it can affect concentration in school, mood, motivation, etc. It’s not a good way to start life. Some kids will eat enough to stay alive…and grow, but not enough to maintain good health. By the time growth is stunted, it’s gone pretty far.

    • katja

      Very true. Thank you for pointing out iron. It is something we should have more on the radar, and you are right, it won’t show up in growth. I see parents spend a lot of time concerned over things that are going fine, (most commonly worrying about protein when the child is getting more than enough) and then critical screening like iron is missed. Iron is so important, all children should be screened for it. What are you using for replacement? Drops? Also, children who were growth stunted who do catch-up growth run through their iron stores and need to be checked. Also often missed? Rechecking iron! The pediatric nutritionist who works with us have her baby the drops in the bathtub since they tend to stain clothing, and they can temporarily stain teeth! With 1/3 parents complaining about picky eating, and many of these children not suffering from iron deficiency, we have to be thoughtful, and remember to continue offering fruits and veggies and a variety of foods, including iron. Sometimes I do think it’s easier for some parents to give up on the offering and just offer the supplement. Great comment, thanks! I once tried pediasure when my M had diarrhea and she refused to drink it. Wonder how it tastes…

  2. JupiterPluvius

    I think this kind of thing might be helpful for children dealing with gastroparesis or similar (heck, I’m having a flare-up of gastroparesis and thinking this might be a good idea for 47-year-old me) but of course that’s not enough $$$ for the people making it. Behold the pathologizing of ordinary ranges of behavior!

  3. Kate

    “picky eaters who are growing fine”

    So what’s the problem?

    • katja

      if you don’t define a problem, you can’t sell. A worried mother is the best customer :) What if the child isn’t growing fine? Do they need the cloudy pediasure? It’s odd, isn’t it…

      • Kate

        Yeah. My education is in advertising/marketing/PR, so I can totally see this all going down in their offices. In my mind, products like Pediasure are for specific times and used more “medicinally.” You know, horrible GI issue and child can’t keep anything down and is getting dehydrated. But that’s so limiting for the profit margins!

        It just seems like cognitive dissonance to say “your kid is growing just fine…but there’s a problem!”