A lot of baby foods contain “inappropriately high levels of sugar”, according to World Health Organisation (WHO), but may be marked incorrectly.
WHO conducted two studies to find out the nutritional content of baby food products and investigate their marketing.
The organisation collected data from 8,000 food and drink products marketed fro infants and young children in stores between November 2017 and January 2018, in four countries. It was found that at least half of the products attributed 30 per cent of their calorie content to total sugars, a third of them listing sugar, concentrated fruit juice or some other form of sweetening agent as ingredient.
Added sugar and sweet flavour in baby food, however, can increase the child’s liking for sweet foods as they grow, increasing the risk of obesity and tooth decay. “The very high level of free sugars in pureed commercial products is also cause for concern”, as per WHO.
WHO also emphasised that babies should be exclusively breastfed up to six months of age to protect them from illness. As per their study, 28-60 per cent of food and drink baby products were being marketed in the cities analysed as being suitable for those under that age.
“Good nutrition in infancy and early childhood remains key to ensuring optimal child growth and development, and to better health outcomes later in life – including the prevention of overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – thereby making United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages much more achievable,” Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, was quoted as saying.
“It’s important to recognise that babies have an innate preference for sweet tastes but the key is not to reinforce that preference and to expose them to a variety of different flavours and food textures,” added Professor Mary Fewtrell, nutritional lead, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.