Reading Package Labels Will Help a Lot If You Want to Keep Your Kids Healthy


Toddler foods, which include those for meals and snacks contain more sugar and salt that may influence their choices of foods later in life. Food with too much salt and sugar could contribute to obesity and other health conditions which may include diabetes and heart disease. This is the result of a recent government research.

The study showed that in ten toddler dinners seven contain too much salt. That’s a whopping 70 percent. The same study came out with the data that most cereal bars and breakfast pastries contain added sugar. This includes infant and toddler snacks, according to the study by researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They suggest that parents should be fully aware of what is written in the food labels and opt for foods with healthier ingredients.

Included in the research were over1, 000 food products sold in the market for infants and toddlers. They studied the information found on the packages and labels. The result of the research can be found in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

You will be interested to know that approximately one in American children, or twenty-five percent of the children are either overweight or obese. You will be surprised to know eighty percent of children whose ages are 1 to 3 consumes more than the daily salt maximum amount which is 1,500 milligrams. Too much salt and sugar can lead to obesity and increased blood pressure even in children and later in life.

“We also know that about one in nine children have blood pressure above the normal range for their age, and that sodium, excess sodium, is related to increased blood pressure,” said the CDC’s Mary Cogswell, the study’s lead author. “Blood pressure tracks from when children are young up through adolescence into when they’re adults. Eating foods which are high in sodium can set a child up for high blood pressure and later on for cardiovascular disease.”

Researchers based their study data on foods sold in 2012. There were no brand mentioned, but every popular baby food, dinners for toddlers which include macaroni and cheese package, mini hot dogs, rice cakes’ dried fruit, snack and yogurt delights.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America, a trade group whose members include makers of foods for infants and toddlers, issued a statement saying the study “does not accurately reflect the wide range of healthy choices available in today’s marketplace … because it is based on 2012 data that does not reflect new products with reduced sodium levels.”

The research “could needlessly alarm and confuse busy parents as they strive to develop suitable meal options that their children will enjoy,” the group said.

The researchers revealed that they have the latest and complete information on foods commercially marketed for young kids. There have been some progress concerning products commercially available and some positive enhancements can be observed, Cogswell noted.

“The good news is that the majority of infant foods were low in sodium,” she said. It was surprising, she said, that “seven out of 10 toddler foods were high in the amount of sodium per serving and that a substantial proportion of toddler meals and the majority of other toddler foods and infant’s and toddler’s snacks contained an added sugar.”

Toddler food should be limited to about, and not in excess of, 210 milligrams of sodium for each helping. This is the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine. However according to research, toddlers’ food contains 3671 milligrams per helping which is approximately 1.5 times over the suggested maximum amount. Sodium contents per helping is between 100 milligrams to over 900 milligrams.

Food considered with high sugar content are those with more than 35 percent of calories per helping coming from sugar, basing it on Institute of Medicine guidelines for foods served in schools. Several foods included on the study have gone over that. Generally speaking, sugar contributed 47 percent for baby fruit and grain mix; 66 percent of calories dried snack fruits, and over 35 percent of calories in desserts based on dairy products.

(It was also discovered that at least there’s one sugar added in one out of three or 33.33 percent of toddler foods.

There’s a growing concern about the presence of added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup, dextrose and glucose because they increase calorie consumption without contributing any health benefits.

“It’s just additional calories that aren’t needed,” Cogswell said.

A mother from Chicago, Kathleen Burnett, tries to buy only health foods for her three young kids and just recently discarded her favorite brand for a better one because it was too sugary.

“When you’re in the grocery store and things seem quick and simple, it’s very tempting to take those things, and we certainly have,” Burnett said. “We just try to use moderation in those prepackaged foods.”


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