Toddler food has as much salt, sugar as junk food
The salt and added sugar content found in packaged meals for toddlers may be as high as that found in common junk food, according to new research.
Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed the nutrition data on more than 1,000 different foods from grocery stores in the Atlanta area and from the Gladson Nutrition Database. Foods under study were those marketed to infants and toddlers and included fruit and vegetable juices, milk, yogurt and formulas.
The researchers found that the majority of the foods for infants were considered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be "low sodium" and, with the exception of mixed-grain and fruit products, avoided added sugar. But packaged foods for toddlers (geared toward one to three-year-olds) were found to be high in salt, with 72 percent of premade dinners exceeding the recommended limits on sodium content. Also, the majority of toddler dinners and snacks were found to include added sugars.
The researchers said they hope the study's findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, will encourage parents to pay closer attention to nutrition labels when buying food for their young children. They pointed out that research shows that kids establish their taste preferences early in their lives and if they become accustomed to tasting lots of salt and sugar during their toddler yeares, they're more likely to end up with unhealthy diets as adults.