Most Australian parents are confused over what constitutes healthy or unhealthy food, with treats now everyday snacks for toddlers and vegetables scarce on dinner plates. The latest Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll, a quarterly survey of almost 2000 households, has found that with processed foods now the norm, parents are struggling to decipher labels and ingredients, understand how much sugar is added, and appreciate the harm of high-fat, high-sugar foods on the developing brain and body. “It’s not all about parents being too lazy or kids being too fussy, this is showing that it’s actually really challenging to form healthy habits,” poll director and RCH paediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes said. The survey of 3700 children found that a quarter of parents think fruit drinks are healthier than water; almost half of pre-schoolers have treat foods almost every day; and many parents have lost the ability to objectively assess their child’s weight, as overweight becomes the new normal. Only one in eight children are considered overweight by their parents, when one in four actually carries excess weight.