Public Health England (PHE) publishes an evidence review of commercially available baby foods and drinks aimed at children up to 36 months.
The main findings of the report Foods and drinks aimed at infants and young children: evidence and opportunities for action show clear inconsistencies between national infant feeding advice and how some commercial baby food and drink products are presented:
Snacking foods account for more than one third (34.5%) of the total market, and the highest sugar content is found in processed dried fruit snacks which shouldn’t be marketed as suitable for children to eat between meals. Growth in the finger food/snacking market, by 11% in 2017 to 2018, indicates that these foods are increasingly considered an expected and appropriate part of an infant’s diet. However, some sweet snacks, can contain as much sugar as confectionery. The highest sugar levels are seen in fruit and vegetable-based (47.5g), and sweet finger foods (17.0g) per 100g.
Of the 1,120 baby food and drink products reviewed for the report, more than 1 in 4 (28.1%) are targeted at 4 month olds despite advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) that introducing solid foods should not happen until around 6 months of age.
To push change in the products, the review recommends that the food industry and government:
It also recommends:
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at PHE, said: “This shows the food industry could do more to support parents in making the best food choices for their children. Snacking and sweet foods are being promoted while parents are being encouraged to introduce solids earlier than recommended.
Early years feeding is crucial in shaping future taste preferences and healthy habits. With children of all ages consuming too much sugar action is needed to address these practices. The baby and toddler food industry must be careful not to break the trust of parents.”