Sugar levels in infant foods are too high, study finds

The number of snack foods aimed at babies has rocketed – but the sugar content is still too high

The number of snack foods aimed at babies has rocketed – but the sugar content is still too high.

This is according to a new study published in Archives of Disease in Childhood. 

Research found that there are significantly more snack foods available for babies, many of which have a worryingly high sugar levels.

For example, savoury spoonable products showed a 16% increase in sugar content.

Additionally, concentrated juice was added to 29% of products. And only 18% of “savoury” products contained more than 50% sweet vegetables or fruit.

Tighter regulations

The number and proportion of baby snacks increased markedly in 2019 to 185. This compares to just 42 in 2013.

And despite encouragement for parents to offer home-made baby foods, 58% of UK infants receive commercial baby foods between the ages of 6 and 12 months.

The research team argued that further studies are needed to look into the prevalence and extent of product marketing strategies was required,

They added that there may be a need for tighter regulations on packaging to discourage the use of baby snacks.

‘The product range of commercial infant foods has expanded dramatically in the last 7 years, both in the number of brands and the types of products,’ they said.

‘Fewer foods are now marketed to infants aged 4 months, but the increase in snack foods and the sweetness of savoury foods is a concern.’

Spike in products

The results also show there are fewer products described as suitable for infants aged four months in 2019 (201 or 23%) compared with 2013 (178 or 43%).

However, the proportion for children in the 6 to 7 month age range increased from 135 (or 33%) in 2013 to 369 (or 43%) in 2019.

The proportion of sweet and savoury products was unchanged and sweet spoonable products showed a small but significant decrease in sugar content (6%) between 2013 and 2019.

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