Which 'healthy' baby and toddler snacks contain almost two teaspoons of sugar?

Organix and Kiddylicious were two brands singled out by the study.

More than a third of so-called "healthy" baby food could receive a red traffic light-style label for unnecessary sugar levels, a study has found.

Action on Sugar analysed 73 baby sweet snacks and found that while all featured “healthy sounding” claims on the packaging, some contained as much as two teaspoons of unnecessary sugar.

37% could receive a red traffic light-style label for sugar content, while just six products (8%) would have received a green (low) label for sugars.

Currently, baby and children’s food and drink is not required to display traffic light labelling on the front of packs.

Which snacks were found to be the worst offenders?

  • Heinz Farley’s Mini Rusks Original - 8.7g of sugars per serving (two teaspoons of sugar)

  • Organix Banana Soft Oaty Bars (sweetened with apple juice concentrate) - 8.1g of sugars per serving

  • Kiddylicious Banana Crispy Tiddlers - 59g of sugar per 100g

  • Kiddylicious Pineapple, Coconut and Mango Juicy Fruit Bars - 30.7g of sugar per 100g.

A poll for Action on Sugar found 84% of parents of young children said they buy these sweet snacks for their children, and 60% said a “no added sugar” claim would be the reason for choosing a particular product.

Some 92% said they were more inclined to buy products containing “natural sources” of sugars; for example, fruit.

Action on Sugar described the findings as of “deep concern”, advising that babies and toddlers should not eat any free sugars at all.

It has called for the removal of “misleading” nutrition and health claims, especially around “no added sugar”, when such ingredients are replaced by fruit concentrates which are still a type of free sugar and should be limited.

It is also urging the government to finally publish its composition guidelines for baby and toddler products, which will guide manufacturers on how much sugar should be used.

Dr Kawther Hashem, campaign lead at Action on Sugar and research fellow at Queen Mary University of London, said: “It’s ludicrous that certain food companies are being allowed to promote their high-sugar sweet snacks to parents with very young children, despite them being aware that babies and toddlers shouldn’t be having any free sugars.

“Babies can have a preference for sweet foods, due to milk being ever so slightly sweet, but liking sugary foods is something they only learn by eating sugary foods."

Dr Hashem argued that some companies encourage this preference by selling very sweet products.

"What we need is companies to make products with minimal amount of sugars, so young children can grow up enjoying less sweet foods,” she said.

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Sugar, said: “Consuming too much sugar on a regular basis means we’re eating too many calories. If we don’t use those calories as fuel, our body will store them as fat.

“This can lead to weight gain and, if this happens to our children, it’s likely they will carry the weight into their adolescent and adult years, potentially leading to overweight or obesity, as well as suffering from agonising tooth decay."

Having too much sugar as a baby can lead to obesity in a person's adolescent years, the chairman of Action on Sugar said.

Heinz said in a statement: “Sugar reduction is a key focus for Heinz for Baby and we are looking into ways to improve the products we make. Alongside the original rusks, Farley’s offer a range of reduced-sugar rusks with 30% less sugar.

“The level of added sugars in these recipes is kept to a minimum consistent with the need to provide a texture which dissolves easily to avoid the risk of choking. Farley’s Rusks are very different from typical biscuits, containing very little fat and no added salt.”

A Kiddylicious spokeswoman said: “The Kiddylicious products highlighted in this report are sweetened by fruit, which naturally does contain sugar.

“We pack all of our snacks in portion-controlled bags for tinier tummies. This helps parents to moderate consumption and also ensures that the nutritionals are of appropriate levels for children.”