Children's 'healthy' foods higher in sugar, salt and fat than regular foods

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Foods that are marketed to children in some UK grocery stores are less healthy than what mom and dad are eating, according to a new study from the University of Hertfordshire.

Nutritional data was collected on yogurts, cereal bars and pre-packaged meals from seven major UK supermarket retailers and then categorized as either children's food or non-children's food. The content of fat, sugar and salt between the two categories were then compared.

"Consumers may think that foods marketed for children, using cartoon characters and promoted for lunchboxes, might be healthier options than the equivalent foods marketed more for adults," said Dr. Kirsten Rennie of the University of Hertfordshire's Centre for Lifespan and Chronic Illness Research. "In fact, we found that it was the opposite."

Rennie and colleagues found that the children's foods contained substantially more fat and sugar per 100 grams than the same versions of "adult" foods.

Parents: Shop consciously

The authors note that parents should become more aware when choosing foods based on colorful packaging or advertising geared toward children - just because something has the word "healthy" on the packaging doesn't mean it's nutritionally balanced.

"This is very worrying and does not help consumers' confidence in choosing appropriate healthy foods for their children," Rennie said.

She hopes the findings will encourage food companies to rethink how they package and sell children's food products.

"This is an opportunity for food manufacturers to look at their child-orientated products and think about how they can improve them," Rennie concluded.

Source: Science Daily

 
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