Improving the nutritional content of commercial baby food consultation
Today, Public Health England has released a consultation on voluntary guidelines for improving the nutritional content of commercial baby food to key stakeholders. The key stakeholders will comment on the scope of reformulation, technical considerations and challenges.
A child's food preferences and eating habits can be formed early in life which may have consequences of health and development outcomes in later life. The prevalence of obesity is rising in the UK and many children are growing up in an obesogenic environment where environmental factors encourage weight gain and obesity. Children who are overweight or obese are more like to be living with obesity as adults which also increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes in adulthood.
Infants and young children (up to the age of 3 years old) are eating too much salt and sugar and energy intakes have exceeded their requirements. Therefore this consultation will aim to address the nutrient composition highlighted in PHE's report by reducing the sugar content (sweetness of products) and limiting the salt content. Commercial baby food and drinks are widely purchased in the UK and so this is an opportunity for these products to support the development of good eating habits at an early age.
Registered Nutritionist Dr Kawther Hashem, Campaign Lead at Action on Sugar based at Queen Mary University of London says,
“Children’s food preference and eating habits are formed early on, and have consequences for a range of serious health issues in later life such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. We are very pleased to see these draft guidelines being published. It should go without saying that commercial baby food and drink products should not contain any added salt or sugar, and it’s about time this is made absolutely clear to the industry. We urge the baby food companies to make these changes immediately, for the babies that are being born now, not just in 2023!”