Baby foods on the market generally contain too much sugar, posing a source of health concern, a new report by the World Health Organisation has said. The world health body said this in the report released to update guidelines for infant diets.
The UN specialised agency on public health based the conclusion on an examination by its European office of about 8,000 baby food products on the shelf between November 2017 and January 2018. It warned that “the very high levels of sugars present in commercial products is a cause for concern” as it increases the risk of obesity and dental cavities while inducing a lifetime eating habit in favour of sugary foods.
In around half of the products examined, “more than 30 per cent of calories were from total sugars and around a third of products contained added sugar or other sweetening agents,” the world health body said. The examination that covered more than 500 stores in Austria, Bulgaria, Israel and Hungary also found the labels of up to 60 per cent of the inspected food were misleading by claiming to be suitable for infants under six months old. The WHO has long recommended that “infants receive exclusively breast milk for the first six months of life.”
In the WHO report, countries were advised to make new laws to curb high sugar intake, ban added sugars and sweeteners in baby foods and put an end to the promotion of breast milk substitutes. It also required labels on candies and sweetened beverages, including fruit juices and condensed milk, to state they were not suitable for children under three.
Meanwhile, the WHO recommends that children between six months and two years be fed nutrient-rich home-prepared foods. “Good nutrition in infancy and early childhood remains key to ensuring optimal child growth and development and better health outcomes later in life,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, in a statement.