Experts Concerned About Sweetness of Baby Foods Sold in the UK

Dawn O'Shea

July 21, 2020

Experts have expressed concern about the sugar content of savoury baby foods sold in the UK.

Research published in Archives of Disease in Childhood  shows that the range of commercial baby food products available in the UK has grown rapidly in recent years, and the sugar content of most products remains too high.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow carried out a cross-sectional survey of all infant food products available to buy in the UK online and in-store in 2019. A total of 898 commercial baby foods were identified, of which 865 were analysed. Nutritional content and product descriptions were compared with an existing 2013 database.

The data showed there were 84% more brands and twice as many products compared with 2013.

There were fewer products described as suitable for infants aged four months or more in 2019 (23.2%) compared with 2013 (43.2%), whereas the proportion for children in the 6 to 7 months or more age range increased from 32.8% in 2013 to 43.2% in 2019.

Sweet spoonable products showed a small but significant decrease in sugar content (6%) between 2013 and 2019. However, savoury spoonable products showed a 16% increase in sugar content.

In the 2019 data, concentrated juice was added to 29% of sweet snack products, and 18% of 'savoury' products were comprised of more than 50% sweet vegetables or fruit.

The researchers say there may be a need for tighter regulations on packaging to discourage the use of baby snacks.

Garcia AL, Curtin L, Ronquillo JD, Parrett A, Wright CM. Changes in the UK baby food market surveyed in 2013 and 2019: the rise of baby snacks and sweet/savoury foods. Arch Dis Child. 2020 Jul 16 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2020-318845. PMID: 32675379.  Full text.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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