Junk food for babies? An investigation into foods marketed for babies and young children

The UK baby food market is worth an estimated £315 million annually, and many food products marketed for babies and young children carry claims about their nutritional value, such as 'added vitamins', 'contains calcium' or 'no added salt'. Prompted by the discovery that a leading brand of biscuits for babies and young children contained trans fats, the Children's Food Campaign undertook a survey of foods marketed for babies and young children, analysing the nutritional information provided for 107 foods marketed for babies and young children available from UK supermarkets. The findings were concerning.


Junk food for babies?Prompted by the discovery that a leading brand of biscuits for babies and young children contained trans fats, the Children’s Food Campaign undertook a survey of foods marketed for babies and young children, analysing the nutritional information provided for 107 foods marketed for babies and young children available from UK supermarkets.

The UK baby food market is worth an estimated £315 million annually, and many food products marketed for babies and young children carry claims about their nutritional value, such as “added vitamins”, “contains calcium” or “no added salt”.

However, our survey (conducted in 2009) showed that several popular products contained high levels of sugars and/or saturated fat, with some products containing levels of sugar or saturated fat higher than those in adult products widely considered “junk food”.

Researchers discovered that Farley’s Original Rusks contained more sugar per 100g than McVities Dark Chocolate Digestives, that Heinz Toddler's Own Mini Cheese Biscuits had more saturated fat per 100g than a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with cheese, and that Cow&Gate Baby Balance Bear Biscuits contained trans fats and were not labelled in the way required to give parents transparent information on which to make their decisions. [Note that since the survey, products and marketing claims may have changed.]

The survey of more than one hundred foods marketed for babies and young children, all found in mainstream UK supermarkets in spring 2009, exposes just how high in saturated fat, salt and sugar many of these foods are.


Report contents

  • Introduction
  • Our investigation
  • Our findings
  • Policy demands
  • Conclusion
  • Survey results

30/04/2009
Children's Food Campaign

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