Dentists call for swift action on sugar-filled baby pouches

Dentists call for swift action on sugar-filled baby pouchesObscene levels’ of sugar in baby food pouches exposes the need for quick action across the early years’ food and drink sector.

This is the latest verdict from the British Dental Association following new research into the sugar content in baby food pouches.

Although there are widespread claims of ‘no added sugar’, dentists highlight that there is little to no difference if the sugar is added or naturally occurring when it comes to oral health.

‘Disingenuous language’

Analysing 109 pouches aimed at children aged under 12 months, findings show:

  • More than one quarter contained more sugar by volume than Coca Cola. Parents of infants as young as four months are marketed pouches that contain the equivalent of up to 150% the sugar levels of the soft drink. All pouches are fruit-based mixes
  • ‘Boutique’ brands appear to have higher levels of sugar than traditional baby food brands or own brand alternatives.
  • Some products examined aimed at four months plus contain up to two thirds of an adult’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sugar
  • Both UK and WHO guidance recommends weaning from six-months-old, so no products should be allowed to be marketed as ‘4months plus’. Nearly 40% of products examined were marketed at this age group.
  • The sector has uses disingenuous language – for example,  ‘naturally occurring sugars’ or the absence of ‘added sugars’. Words such as ‘organic’, ‘high in fibre’ or ‘containing 1 of your 5 a day’ were also used
  • Over two thirds of the products examined exceeded the 5g of sugar per 100ml threshold set for the sugar levy applied to drinks.

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Further from the truth

Neither the World Health Organisation (WHO) nor the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) cite an RDA for children. Instead, they stress that as little should be consumed as possible.

BDA chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘Disingenuous marketeers are giving parents the impression they are making a healthy choice with these pouches. Nothing could be further from the truth.

‘Claims of ‘no added sugar’ are meaningless when mums and dads end up delivering the lion’s share of a can of Coke to their infants.

‘Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, and sugar is driving this epidemic. These products sadly risk hooking the next generation before they can even walk.

‘Ministers need to break the UK’s addiction. They must ensure sugar becomes the new tobacco, especially when it comes to our youngest patients.’

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