Be careful, industrial baby food is too sweet, warns WHO

Beware of industrial baby food: it often contains too many sugars and its labeling is confusing, warns Monday, July 15, the WHO, which proposes to renew its criteria to improve the diet of toddlers. “In about half of the products examined (…), more than 30% of the calories came from total sugars and about a third of the products contained added sugar or other sweeteners”, notes the European branch of the World Organization of Health, after having studied nearly 8,000 products in more than 500 stores between Vienna (Austria), Sofia (Bulgaria), Haifa (Israel) and Budapest (Hungary) from November 2017 to January 2018.

A diet that is too sweet, which increases the risk of overweight

High sugar intake can increase the risk of overweight and dental caries and early exposure to sugary products can create a harmful preference for sugary foods for the rest of one’s life, the WHO warns. “Good nutrition during the neonatal period and early childhood remains essential to ensure optimal growth and development of the child, and better health outcomes later in life,” recalls the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, quoted in a press release. In 2018, the institution warned against the increase in obesity and overweight among Europeans, which risked reversing the upward trend in their life expectancy.

About a third of the products examined contained sugar

Consuming sugary drinks, including fruit juices, can lead to a tendency to forgo foods that are higher in nutrients. About a third of the products reviewed had sugar, concentrated fruit juice or other sweeteners in their composition, ingredients that should not be added to foods for toddlers. Between 18% and 57% of them contained more than 30% calories from sugars, regrets the WHO. The institution’s European branch, which stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, includes 53 countries as diverse as Russia and Andorra, Germany and Tajikistan.

Breast milk as the only food for infants

The study also showed that foods considered unsuitable according to the Organization’s recommendations are marketed for toddlers. Between 28% and 60% of foods were labeled as suitable for infants under six months of age, “WHO recommends that infants be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life and therefore no food. should only be marketed as suitable for children under six months, ”the report stresses.

WHO updates its recommendations

To encourage its members to adopt new guidelines, WHO is updating its recommendations. She would like to end the promotion of breastmilk substitutes and recommends that the diet of children between six months and two years old be based on foods rich in nutrients, prepared at home. All added sugars and sweeteners should also be banned from baby food. The labeling of sugary drinks, especially fruit juices and condensed milk, and confectionery should state that these products are not suitable for children under three years of age.

(With AFP)