Thursday 8 December 2016

Commercial baby foods too sweet to encourage children to eat their greens, say scientists

Karrie Gillett

Published 30/08/2015 | 17:02

Commercial baby foods too sweet to encourage children to eat their greens, say scientists
Commercial baby foods too sweet to encourage children to eat their greens, say scientists

Commercial baby foods are probably too sweet to encourage children to eat their greens - despite containing large amounts of vegetables, according to scientists.

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A study of hundreds of brand-name products carried out at the University of Glasgow found fruit and sweet vegetables, like carrot, are mostly used rather than bitter ones such as spinach.

This lack of variety is unlikely to promote the development of bitter tastes in youngsters, according to the the report's authors.

They said parents should be encouraged to offer home-cooked vegetables to promote a wider range of tastes for children.

Dr Ada Garcia, who led the research, said: "Infants have an innate preference for sweet foods.

"While manufacturers clearly recognise the demand for products that appear to be healthy, commercial pressure will ensure these products are highly palatable.

"Taste learning requires parents to introduce their children to less palatable bitter tastes and keep offering them. However, it is probably unrealistic to expect commercial products to assist in this process."

The study of 329 baby foods from all the major manufacturers found the most common ingredients mentioned were apple, banana, tomato, mango, carrot and sweet potato.

The research, published in the journal Maternal and Child Nutrition, revealed green vegetables were rarely used.

Dr Garcia added: "A recent study showed that while commercial baby foods list fruit and vegetables as ingredients, higher use of these foods was associated with lower intake of fruit and vegetables in infancy which persisted into school age.

"The risk is that while parents may think commercial baby foods are introducing their children to healthy vegetable tastes, actually, they are mainly reinforcing preferences for sweet foods.

"Infants usually accept new foods and tastes well if vegetable tastes are introduced early, and this early experience influences food preference later in childhood."

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