Commercial foods for infants and young children – Issues paper

This paper presents evidence that shows commercial foods for infants and young children are not in line with the relevant dietary guidelines. It defines the problem in a way the food regulation system can address.

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The key findings of this paper include:

  • Around one-third of Australian toddlers are estimated to exceed the recommended upper limit for sodium.
  • Australian children often eat less than the recommended intake of vegetables and meat and alternatives. These food groups may be displaced with ‘discretionary’ foods high in sugars or sodium.
  • Most products for infants don’t declare iron content, despite iron being an important nutrient for development for this age group.
  • Most foods promoted as ‘first foods’ have a sweet flavour profile which can:
    • establish sweet flavour preferences
    • limit acceptance of more bitter flavoured foods such as vegetables.
  • The texture of infant foods is often not suitable for the developmental stage of older infants.
  • Many foods for young children are energy-dense and high in sugars and sodium.

Evidence suggests that:

  • infant and young children’s diets do not align with some aspects of the relevant guidelines in Australia and New Zealand
  • many commercial foods:
    • are high in sugar (infant and young children’s foods)
    • are high in sodium (young children’s foods)
    • don’t provide key nutrients for these age groups.
  • current labelling does not support carers to make informed choices.
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