The amount of sugar in baby
food should be restricted and
parents should give their young
children more vegetables to stop
them developing a sweet tooth,
a report from child health
It warns that even baby food
marked "no added sugar" often
contains sugars from honey or
Parents should offer bitter
flavours too, the Royal College of
Paediatrics and Child Health
This will guard against tooth
decay, poor diet and obesity.
The recommendation is one of
many included in
a report on how
to improve the health of children
in the UK.
Reducing child obesity is a key
priority in all parts of the UK,
with England and Scotland
committing to halving rates by
Targeting food high in sugar and
fat is an important part of that
aim, following the introduction of
a tax on sugary drinks in England
The report says the government
should introduce mandatory
limits on the amount of free
sugar in baby foods.
Many can contain high levels of
sugar added by the
manufacturer or present in
syrups and fruit juices, it says,
despite labels suggesting
The report says infants should
not be given sugary drinks.
Instead, they should have sugar
in a natural form, such as whole
fresh fruit, milk or unsweetened
Prof Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead
for the Royal College of
Paediatrics and Child Health, said
products for weaning babies
often contained a high
proportion of fruit or sweet-
"Pureed or liquid baby foods
packaged in pouches also often
have a high energy density and
a high proportion of sugar," she
"If sucked from the pouch, the
baby also misses out on the
opportunity to learn about
eating from a spoon or feeding
"Baby foods can be labelled 'no
added sugar' if the sugar comes
from fruit - but all sugars have
the same effects on the teeth
and on metabolism."
'Broccoli and spinach'
She said babies had a preference
for sweet tastes but parents
should not reinforce that.
"Babies are very willing to try
different flavours, if they're
given the chance," Prof Fewtrell
said, "and it's important that
they're introduced to a variety
of flavours, including more bitter
tasting foods such as broccoli
and spinach, from a young age."
Prof Fewtrell also said parents
should be educated on the
impact of sugar.
"Excess sugar is one of the
leading causes of tooth decay,
which is the most common oral
disease in children, affecting
nearly a quarter (23%) of five-
She added that sugar intake also
contributed to children becoming
overweight and obese.
The Scientific Advisory
Committee on Nutrition
recommends sugar provides no
more than 5% of daily total
energy intake for those aged
two and over, and even less for
children under two.
But results from the National
Diet and Nutrition Survey
suggest the average daily intake
for the children between one-
and-a-half and three years is
11.3% - more than double the
A review of food and drinks
aimed at young children, by
Public Health England, found that
processed dried fruit products
contained the highest amount of
sugar - but were often marketed
as healthy snacks.
The products, which contain fruit
juices, purees and concentrates,
making them high in free sugars,
should not be sold as suitable
snacks for children, PHE said.