Australian baby and toddler foods failing to meet world nutrient recommendations

A recent study released by researchers found that most Australian commercially available baby and toddler foods are failing to meet nutrient recommendations, and almost all contain added sugar.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) European offices put forward a ‘nutrient profile model’ which outlines the nutrients required for babies and toddlers under 36 months. When this was applied to Australian baby foods, it became clear that there is still a long way to go in getting the right nutrition into our youngest family members.

Unfortunately, Australia has limits on sodium content in food for babies but not for toddlers. It also doesn’t have limits on sugar or other types of nutrients.

The study tested over 250 baby and toddler foods sold at Aldi, Coles, and Woolworths. Disturbingly, the research revealed that two thirds of the examined foods did not comply with the nutrition standards for their particular category, particularly those intended for toddlers in which nine out of ten failed to meet all of the proposed criteria.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) suggests that although these ready-made food items can be convenient, they aren’t necessary at all – toddlers can eat healthy nutritious meals just like their parents.

‘For two in five young children under the age of three, these foods make up half of their diet. Parents are very busy, so it would be much better if the food supply was improved across the board’, she says.

It’s really important to raise awareness about improving the food quality for little ones in Australia – here’s hoping this research will push governments into implementing better limits on added sugars as well as encourage manufacturers to improve energy density levels within their products.

What’s being done about it

Established by the Cancer Council Victoria, Diabetes Victoria, VicHealth and The Global Obesity Centre at Deakin University, the OPC launched their ‘Kids are sweet enough’ campaign to advocate for policy and regulation changes that would support obesity prevention in Australian children.

Through this initiative they have called for a number of standards to be implemented by kids’ food manufacturers so that kids can ‘grow and develop in the healthiest way possible’ including:

  1. Prevent processed food companies adding sugars to baby and toddler foods.
  2. Ensure foods for babies and toddlers are free from promotional claims.
  3. Ensure the names of baby and toddler foods accurately reflect ingredients.

What you can do about it

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