Wits university collected and analysed the sugar content of 235 baby food items sold in major South African supermarkets, concluding that the levels are too high and need to be regulated.
South Africa has the highest rate of childhood obesity in the world with the current figure sitting at 13% and the global average at 6%.
It is with this background information that the institution analysed the sugar content of a variety of baby food products. The study sample included commercially available baby foods – including boxes of cereals and jars of processed food – targeted at children under 12 months.
The findings showed that most baby cereals have added sugar. This is a concern because they are often the first food given to babies when they are weaned. It was also discovered that pureed fruit and desserts had very high levels of sugar (about four teaspoons).
Only one in five of the baby foods in the study had acceptable levels as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The study has revealed how alarmingly high levels of sugar are being fed to children at a very young age. It is recommended to substitute sweet, processed baby foods in favour of healthier alternatives.
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