Topic: Toddlers may be getting hooked on sugar in snacks

Some snacks sold as weaning or infant foods contain alarming amounts of sugar which could encourage a sweet tooth from an early age, according to health campaigners.

Action on Sugar analysed 73 baby and toddler products on sale in UK shops.

Heinz Farley’s Mini Rusks Original, for example, contain the equivalent of two teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Organix Banana Soft Oaty Bars, which are sweetened with apple juice concentrate, contain similar.

Kiddylicious Banana Crispy Tiddlers contain more than 50% sugar – 59g for every 100g of the product.

Overall, 27 of the products tested would qualify for a “red” or “high” sugar on the front-of-pack traffic light food labelling system.

Only six met the criteria for a “green” or “low” label for sugars.

And 36 of the products claimed – on the packet – that their sweet snacks were suitable for babies under the age of 12 months, even though sugar-sweetened food and drink should be avoided in this age group.

Even if the sugar comes from added fruit juice, it is not good for babies and toddlers, says Action on Sugar.

Dr Kawther Hashem, Campaign Lead at Action on Sugar, and Research Fellow at Queen Mary University of London, said it was “ludicrous” that certain food companies were being allowed to promote high-sugar sweet snacks to parents with very young children, despite them being aware that babies and toddlers shouldn’t be having any free sugars.

She said: “Babies can have a preference for sweet foods, due to milk being ever so slightly sweet, but liking sugary foods is something they only learn by eating sugary foods.

“Some companies choose to encourage this preference further by providing lots of very sweet products from an early age. What we need is companies to make products with minimal amount of sugars, so young children can grow up enjoying less sweet foods.”

Regularly consuming too much sugar at any age can cause health problems, including tooth decay and weight gain.

Bridget Benelam from the British Nutrition Foundation said offering less sweet vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, early on in weaning may help children learn to accept these flavours.

Topic Discussed: Toddlers may be getting hooked on sugar in snacks

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