Blog: Katy AskewBaby food brands coming up short on nutrition - study

Katy Askew | 10 September 2013

The nutritional content of commercial baby foods came under the spotlight this week, when a new study suggested that on the whole they fail to meet the dietary needs of weaning infants.

The research, from a team led by Dr. Charlotte Wright of the University of Glasgow, found that commercial foods are predominately too sweet and provide little nutritional benefit over breast milk or formula. The researchers also suggested that baby foods are marketed to infants that are too young. 

"The most commonly used commercial foods considered in this study supply no more energy than breast or formula milk and yet they are promoted at an age when they will replace the breast or formula milk, which is all that babies under six months really need," Dr. Wright commented.

The study analysed the nutritional content of all 462 baby foods on sale in the UK that can be used during weaning. The products included ready-made wet foods, powdered meals, breakfast cereals and finger foods. Nearly two-thirds of the products were sweet foods.

The researcher's conclusions raise a number of important issues.

With obesity never far from the public eye, could we be weaning generations of children that will grow up with a predisposition towards sweet foods?

The authors of the study certainly think so, adding that repeated exposure to foods during infancy "promotes acceptance and preferences".

The food industry is increasingly focused on the development of products that promote health and wellness.

Responding to the needs of an ageing population, manufactures are more frequently developing foods that offer health benefits later in life. But, as the industry looks to narrow the gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, perhaps it is worth remembering that a good diet should be promoted from the earliest age.

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