Some baby foods contain as much sugar and saturated fats as chocolate biscuits or cheeseburgers, a British food pressure group has revealed in a survey of more than 100 foods for babies and toddlers. According to the Children’s Food Campaign (CFC), Farley’s rusks were 29 per cent sugar and some Cow & Gate toddler biscuits contained trans fats, which have been linked to heart disease. ‘Many foods marketed for babies and young children are advertised as being “healthy”.
In reality, in terms of sugar and saturated fat content, some are worse than junk food,’ spokeswoman Christine Haigh told UK media. ‘The results are staggering.’ The CFC found that 100g of Farley’s Original Rusks, made by Heinz, contained more sugar than that contained in the same weight of some chocolate digestive biscuits. Heinz Toddlers’ Own Mini Cheese Biscuits contained 7.3g of saturated fat per 100g, more than the 6.7g in an equal weight piece of a McDonald’s quarter pounder burger with cheese. Cow & Gate, which makes a range of baby and toddler formula milks and foods, responded to the survey by halting production of its baby biscuits which contained hydrogenated fat.
In Dubai, Belinda Rennie, nutritionist at Cooper Clinic welcomed the group’s research, telling Time Out Kids, ‘Refined wheat, sugar and fat in a processed rusk is the farthest from an ideal weaning food that I can think of. Babies who suck on these get used to bland sugary and salty foods and are less likely to try and enjoy the taste of fresh pureed fruit and vegetables.’ Instead, she says baby rice mixed with breast milk and pureed organic fresh vegetables and fruits are the best options for weaning, along with rice cakes, corn thins and organic rusks made from wholegrains such as spelt with no added sugar. ‘Reading food labels can alert you to the percentage of sugar and fat and the overall quality of the product. Cheap baby foods mean cheap ingredients including damaging fats and insulin-raising sugars…save money and make it yourself or buy organic wherever possible.’