Food and Behaviour Research

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02 February 2015 - American Academy of Pediatrics - Many Pre-Packaged Toddler Meals and Snack Foods Contain Too Much Salt or Sugar

With high levels of childhood obesity, it is important to feed children a healthy diet starting early in life. However, a new study found that a significant amount of commercial toddler meals and foods sold in the U.S. are high in sodium or sugar.

In the March 2015 Pediatrics study, “Sodium and Sugar in Complementary Infant and Toddler Foods Sold in the United States,” (published online Feb. 2), researchers examined the sodium and sugar content of 1,074 infant and toddler dinners, snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts.

Out of 79 infant mixed grains and fruits, 41 contained at least one added sugar, and 35 of these foods contained more than 35 percent calories from sugar.
Seventy-two percent of toddler dinners were high in sodium, containing more than 210 mg consumed per meal.
On average, dry fruit-based snacks contained 60 grams of sugar and 66 percent of calories from total sugars.
The most commonly used added sugars were fruit juice concentrate (56 percent), sugar (33 percent), cane (20 percent), syrup (15 percent), and malt (7 percent).

Study authors conclude that many types of infant and toddler foods had high sugar or sodium content.
These results are concerning, and parents are advised to read nutrition labels and choose products lower in added sugar and sodium.
Reducing sodium and sugar intake early on can help set taste preferences and help children make healthy food choices later in life.