Commercial infant food products are increasing, however the sugar levels in these products is also very high according to a research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
The research team from the University of Glasgow had previously drawn attention through a study in 2013 to the quality of nutrition, and had recommended labels for foods designed for infants as most of these products were too sweet. In the latest research study, the team assessed the changes in the market for infant food during 2013 to 2019 through a cross-sectional survey of these products which are commercially available in the U.K. through physical stores and e-commerce platforms. The team also compared the product descriptions and nutritive content in 2019 with the 2013 data, and compared changes in the quantity of infant products which are marketed and the number of products categorized as savory, spoonable and sweet, with sugar content in dry snacks.
There was an 84% increase in brands and commercial infant foods since 2013. Moreover, there were 32 infant food brands and 27 brands which were not present in the 2013 database. 898 commercial infant food products were identified in 2019, out of which, spoonable products accounted for 68% of the total number of products, packed products accounted for 54%, and dry food constituted 28%. The number of products that were labeled as suitable for infants (aged 4 months) in 2019 were 201 out of 865, compared to 178 in 2013. The amount of savory and sweet products did not change, however sugar content in sweet spoonable products has decreased slightly. On the other hand, the sugar content in savory products increased by 16%. The researchers suggest that exposure to high sugar content since an early age can harm the infants’ health. They also acknowledge that more research is needed to understand the prevalence of these marketing tactics, and whether stricter policies are needed on labelling and packaging of these food products.