According to a new study by Action on Sugar, so-called “healthy” baby and toddler snacks can contain up to two teaspoons of unnecessary sugar, despite being sold as weaning foods.
The campaign group analyzed 73 baby-sweet snacks and found that more than a third (37%) could get a red traffic light label for the sugar content, even though all of them indicated “healthy-sounding” packaging.
Only six products (8%) would have received a green (low) label for sugar.
For baby and toddler food and beverages, there is currently no traffic light mark on the front of the packaging.
The worst offenders were named, including Heinz Farley’s Mini Rusks Original with 8.7g of sugar per serving or the equivalent of two teaspoons of sugar, followed by Organix Banana Soft Oaty Bars, which are sweetened with apple juice concentrate and contain 8.1g of sugar per serving .
Five Kiddylicious products performed worst on sugar content per 100g – Banana Crispy Tiddlers with 59g of sugar per 100g and Pineapple, Coconut and Mango Juicy Fruit Bars with 30.7g of sugar per 100g.
A survey by Action on Sugar found that 84% of parents of young children said they bought these sweet snacks for their children, while 60% said “no added sugar” was the reason they chose a particular product.
About 92% said they were more inclined to buy products that contain “natural sources” of sugar, such as fruit.
The group described the results as “deeply concerned” and advised babies and young children not to consume free sugars at all.
Since then, she has called for the removal of “misleading” nutrition and health claims, especially with regard to “no added sugar”, when such ingredients are replaced by fruit concentrates, which are still a type of free sugar and should be limited.
Action on Sugar is also urging the government to finally publish their baby and toddler product formulation guidelines, which provide advice to manufacturers on how much sugar should be used.
Dr. Kawther Hashem, Campaign Manager at Action on Sugar and Research Fellow at Queen Mary University of London, said: “It is ridiculous that certain food companies are allowed to promote parents with very young children for their high-sugar sweet snacks, even though they are aware that babies and toddlers do not should have free sugar.
“Babies can have a preference for sweet foods because milk is very slightly sweet, but they only learn to like sugary foods by consuming sugary foods.
“Some companies decide to further promote this preference by offering lots of very sweet products from an early age. What we need are companies that make products with minimal sugar content so that young children can grow up with less sweet foods. “
Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Sugar, said, “When we consume too much sugar on a regular basis, we are consuming too many calories. If we don’t use those calories for fuel use.” , our body stores it as fat.
“This can lead to weight gain, and if this happens to our children, it is likely that they will carry the weight into their teenage and adult years, potentially leading to overweight or obesity and excruciating tooth decay.
“It is therefore imperative that food companies act more responsibly and commit to reformulating sugar, salt and calorie reductions instead of imposing unhealthy products with misleading nutritional information on well-meaning parents.”
Heinz said in a statement: “Sugar reduction is a major focus of Heinz for Baby and we are looking for ways to improve the products we make. In addition to the original rusks, Farley’s offers a range of low-sugar rusks with 30% less sugar.
“The added sugar in these recipes is kept to a minimum to create a texture that dissolves easily to reduce the risk of suffocation. Farley’s Rusks are very different from typical biscuits in that they have very little fat and no added salt . “
A Kiddylicious spokeswoman said: “The Kiddylicious products highlighted in this report are sweetened by fruits that naturally contain sugar.
“We pack all of our snacks in sachets for smaller tummies. This helps parents to moderate consumption and also ensures a child-friendly diet.”
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