The British Dental Association has warned against the high sugar content in baby food pouches.

Recent research, which looked at 109 different pouches aimed at kids under 12, found more than a quarter contained more sugar (by volume) than Coca Cola.

Experts are now warning about the long-term impact on teeth, and health in general, with some products aimed at 4 months+ containing up to two thirds of an adult’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sugar.

Dentists have also stressed that, as far as teeth are concerned, there’s little to no difference if the sugar is added or naturally occurring.

It also seems many ‘boutique’ brands appear to have higher levels of sugar than traditional baby food ones or own-brand alternatives, with Ella’s Kitchen and Annabel Karmel among those receiving criticism.

Other brands offer products based on similar ingredients that contain around half the levels of sugar of the ‘worst offenders’ in the research.

But it’s clearly a widespread problem, as more than two thirds of the products examined exceeded the 5g of sugar per 100ml threshold set for the sugar levy that’s applied to drinks.

The BDA has warned that these pouches carry oral health risks when compared to foods available via jars. 

This is because the contents are often sucked directly from the pouch – so the food spends more time in contact with baby teeth, just as they are coming through, and putting them at risk of erosion and decay.

What’s more, experts say the packaging is often misleading as high sugar products adopt ‘halo labelling’ principles. As a result, they focus on saying things like ‘organic’, ‘high in fibre’ or ‘containing 1 of your 5 a day’ – which they say misleads parents into thinking they are making healthy choices.

Experts are now calling for government action over these products.

The chair of the British Dental Association, Eddie Crouch, said: ‘Disingenuous marketeers are giving parents the impression they are making a healthy choice with these pouches. Nothing could be further from the truth.

‘Claims of “no added sugar” are meaningless when mums and dads end up delivering the lion’s share of a can of Coke to their infants.

‘Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, and sugar is driving this epidemic. These products sadly risk hooking the next generation before they can even walk.

‘Ministers need to break the UK’s addiction. They must ensure sugar becomes the new tobacco, especially when it comes to our youngest patients.’

A full list of the research can be found here.

The ‘worst offenders’ named, according to the research:

Annabel Karmel – Organic Apple, Blueberry & Banana Stage 1 

Ella’s Kitchen – Organic Bananas & Apples Stage 1

Aldi Mamia Organic – Mamia Mangoes, Apples, Bananas & Peaches Purée 

Sainsbury’s – Organic Apple, Banana & Blueberry Puree Smooth Puree 

Piccolo – Organic Apple, Banana & Blueberry with Hint of Vanilla

Heinz – Apple & Mango Fruit Pouch 

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