Are The Foods You Buy Making Your Toddler Fat?

| Pregnancy & Parenting

All parents want the best for their children. When grocery shopping, it's easy to find plenty of "healthy" meals and snacks marketed for infants and toddlers. But is it really as healthy as you think? According to New York Daily News, many children's prepackaged foods are sneaking in WAY too much salts and sugars!

kid in store
(Photo: NY Daily News)

About seven in 10 toddler dinners studied contained too much salt, and most cereal bars, breakfast pastries and snacks for infants and toddlers contained extra sugars, according to a study by researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They advise parents to read food labels carefully and select healthier choices. The researchers analyzed package information and labels for more than 1,000 foods marketed for infants and toddlers. Results appear in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

The study notes that almost one in four U.S. children ages 2 to 5 are overweight or obese — and that almost 80 percent of kids ages 1 to 3 exceed the recommended maximum level of daily salt, which is 1,500 milligrams.

>> Read more: How to Teach Your Kids to Decod Nutrition Labels

Excess sugar and salt can contribute to obesity and elevated blood pressure even in childhood, but also later on.

“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.”

kid with sugar
(Photo: NY Daily News)

The researchers collected data on foods available in 2012. They didn’t list brand names, but foods studied included popular brands of baby food, toddler dinners including packaged macaroni and cheese, mini hot dogs, rice cakes, crackers, dried fruit snacks and yogurt treats.

>> Read more: Foods We You Should Never Eat Again

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

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