Baby food pouches contain ‘more sugar than Coca-Cola’

Over a quarter of many popular baby food pouches contain the equivalent of up to 150% of the sugar levels of Coca-Cola, according to the British Dental Association (BDA).

The survey of 109 pouches marketed at children under 12 months saw ‘obscene amounts’ of sugar content, at a time when tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children.

Some products examined in the survey saw pouches aimed at children as young as four months old contain up to two thirds of an adult’s recommended daily allowance of sugar.

Despite UK and WHO guidance recommending weaning from six months, nearly 40% of the products were marketed at ‘four months plus’.

The BDA named ‘boutique’ brands including market leaders Ella’s Kitchen and Annabel Karmel as appearing to have higher sugar level contents than other pouches surveyed.

Many fruit-based products containing ‘high levels’ of natural sugar have been described as inevitable by manufacturers, however the market analysis found that some brands offering pouches with similar ingredients contain half the level of sugar.

READ MORE: Making HFSS products ‘less visible’ could tackle obesity, research reveals

Dentists have stressed the importance of products claiming to have ‘no added sugar’, as naturally occurring or added sugar has little to no difference on teeth.

Also highlighting the use of disingenuous language, BDA revealed that despite a product marketing ‘organic’ or ‘high in fibre’ status indicating a healthy option, the sugar content could still be high.

Over two thirds of these pouches – which have increased in popularity – exceeded the 5g of sugar per 100ml threshold set for the sugar levy applied to drinks, underlining the need for government action across the sector.

“Disingenuous marketeers are giving parents the impression they are making a healthy choice with these pouches. Nothing could be further from the truth,”  British Dental Association chair Eddie Crouch said.

“These products sadly risk hooking the next generation before they can even walk.”

“Ministers need to break the UK’s addiction. They must ensure sugar becomes the new tobacco, especially when it comes to our youngest patients.”

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