Many food products that are intentionally marketed to children lack nutritional value, according to a study done by the University of Calgary.
In this study, published in the July 14, 2008 issue of Obesity Reviews, 367 food products - including products with a cartoon on the front of the box, or that were tied to children's movie, television programs or other entertainment - were analyzed to determine their levels of sugar, fat and sodium.
Nine out of 10 food items provided poor nutritional value because of high levels of sugar, fat or sodium.
Nearly 70 percent of the products - which excluded soft drinks, candies, cakes and pastries - contained a high proportion of their calories from sugar.
One in five children's food products had high fat levels, and 17 percent had high sodium levels.
Despite their poor nutritional quality, 62 percent of food products marketed to kids made positive health claims - on the front of the packaging - to entice parents into buying the products.
Just 11 percent of the products included in the study offered kids good nutritional value, according to criteria set by the Center of Science in the Public Interest.
With an increasing number of overweight Canadian children being assessed for high cholesterol and other early signs of heart disease, nutrition experts are warning parents to be wary of food products that are marketed towards children.
Children can eat what adults eat, and they should follow the same nutritional guidelines for choosing healthy foods. These guidelines include: an emphasis on whole grain products, lower fat milk products and lean sources of protein such as beans, fish, and chicken.
For more tips on how to raise a healthy eater, check out our June 2008 Cookbook Review, The Good Food Book for Families.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.