Research finds alarming sugar level in SA baby foods

Research finds alarming sugar level in SA baby foods

A study by Wits University has found that most baby foods contain unacceptable sugar levels.

Store selling baby foods
Baby food grocery category aisle/ iStock

Consuming high levels of sugar is very dangerous and may pose a health risk. 

Eating foods that are packed with sugar can cause tooth decay, obesity and nutrition deficiencies in children. It can also increase their chances of suffering from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure when they get older.

Sadly, most store-bought foods contain high levels of sugar. This is according to a recent study by Wits University.

READ: Dietitian explains why instant baby foods are dangerous

Researchers collected contents of 235 baby food items sold in 12 major South African supermarkets. The food items included boxes of cereals and jars of processed food – targeted at children under 12 months. 

They found that only one in five of the baby foods in the study had acceptable levels as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).  They also found that 80% of cereals and pureed desserts contained high levels of sugar - 20g (4 teaspoons) or more per serving.

According to the World Health Organisation, in both adults and children, the intake of free sugars should be reduced to less than 10% of total energy intake.   

The sad news is that the package information for most food items sold in stores was not clear or easy to understand. The researchers found that most contents were usually written in grams per 100 ml or per serving, not in teaspoons, thus making it difficult for parents to interpret.

The researchers also found that it was almost impossible to identify which products had added sugar and which ones had intrinsic (natural) sugars only.

If you’re worried about what you’re feeding your baby, try making their food yourself. 

READ: How to make your own baby food

Watch this video for great tips and ideas for easy baby food prep.

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