A new Canadian study has revealed that close to fifty percent of food meant for babies and toddlers have a high sugar content.
Researchers at the University of Calgary examined a wide variety of 'toddler' foods from pureed dinners and desserts to cereals, biscuits and yoghurts to come up with their conclusions.
Their analysis revealed that 53 per cent of food products meant specifically for babies had 20 per cent of their calories coming from sugar.
The study also analysed four categories of baby/toddler foods against their adult counterparts to reveal whether a 'halo effect' attributed to baby/toddler food is warranted.
Charlene Elliott, an associate professor in the university's Communications and Culture department, said: "There is a presumed halo effect around baby and toddler foods because people expect these foods to be held to a higher standard. Yet this is not necessarily the case."
Elliott added: "Assessing sugar levels in baby and toddler foods is challenging because there is currently no universally accepted standard.
"While the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults should limit their consumption of added sugars to six teaspoons a day for women and nine teaspoons a day for men, these recommendations do not extend to children or toddlers. In fact, the AHA has not published specific 'added sugar' recommendations for children or toddlers-even though high sugar foods are deliberately created for them. Health Canada, similarly, offers no direct recommendations-or cautions-regarding sugar intake or upper limits on the intake of added sugar for very young children, or for toddlers, per se."
Talking about the findings of the study, Elliott said: "This draws attention to the, perhaps obvious, need to carefully examine the ingredient list. While some products derive their sugar content from naturally occurring fruit sugars, many products also contain added sugars. It remains fair to ask why it is necessary to add sugar to these baby or toddler products in the first place."