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Current Position:Home » News » Special Foods » Health Foods » Topic

'Healthy' foods marketed to kids in UK fall short

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2013-05-09  Views: 28
Core Tip: Foods marketed to children in the United Kingdom that are often considered to be healthy, such as yogurts, cereal bars and ready-to-eat meals, are higher in fat, sugar and salt than those marketed to the general population.
Foods marketed to children in the United Kingdom that are often considered to be healthy, such as yogurts, cereal bars and ready-to-eat meals, are higher in fat, sugar and salt than those marketed to the general population, according to a new study published in the Public Health Nutrition Journal. The findings question whether more guidelines may be needed in regulating food marketed to children.

With the rise in childhood obesity across Europe, there has been much attention on how governments can reduce the advertising of products with high fat, sugar and/or salt levels, directly to children. Much of the focus has been on snack foods like confectionery and soft drinks.

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire conducted the study to determine whether foods marketed to children in UK supermarkets are nutritionally similar to the non-children's equivalent, focusing on food categories that may be viewed as healthier options. Nutritional data was collected on yogurts, cereal bars and ready-to-eat meals from seven major UK supermarkets and categorized as children’s or non-children’s products based on the characteristic, promotional nature or information on the product packaging. Fat, sugar and salt content was compared per 100g and per recommended portion size.

They found per 100g, children's yogurts and cereal bars were higher in total sugars, fat and saturated fat than the non-children's. This was significant for all except sugar and total fat in cereal bars. Per portion the differences remained, except for sugars in yogurts. Conversely children's ready-to-eat meals were significantly lower in these nutrients per portion than non-children's, but not when expressed per 100g. Children's yogurts and ready-to-eat meals had significantly lower sodium content than non-children's both per portion and per 100g.

“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. In fact we found that it was the opposite," the researchers said. “Foods like yogurts and cereal bars often had substantially more fat and sugar per 100g than similar adult-version products. This is very worrying and does not help consumers’ confidence in choosing appropriate healthy foods for their children."

 
 
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