Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shocker - Kids' Foods aren't Healthy

Maybe that's why we're recommending they take cholesterol lowering medications at age 8?

A study, published in the July edition of Obesity Reviews, looked at 367 food products targeting Canadian children (products whose packaging had a cartoon on the front of the box and/or were tied to children's movies, TV shows or toys). The products did NOT include obviously unhealthy fare such as candy, soft drinks and baked goods. What the study analyzed was the food claims made on the label versus the actual product's nutritional value.

The results?

89% of products were classifiable as of, "poor nutritional quality" due to high levels of fat, sodium or sugar.

More importantly, 62% of those products deemed of poor nutritional quality had front of label claims (Health Check?) that made positive nutritional comments about the contents of the package.

The lesson learned here?

Our government needs to do more to regulate health claims on foods. Busy parents with or without a background in nutrition don't necessarily have the time (especially with kids in tow), to analyze each food label for themselves while shopping in a supermarket. Canada needs a robust front of package labeling program based on evidence based nutrition like ONQI to help protect Canadians against the outlandish claims that Health Canada allows on our food packaging.

And we need it yesterday.