Nestlé Accused of Excessive Sugar in Baby Products Sold in Developing Countries

Nestlé under scrutiny for excessive sugar in baby foods in developing countries, highlighting need for stricter regulations to protect vulnerable populations.

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Wojciech Zylm
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Nestlé Accused of Excessive Sugar in Baby Products Sold in Developing Countries

Nestlé Accused of Excessive Sugar in Baby Products Sold in Developing Countries

Nestlé, a global infant food company , has come under scrutiny for allegedly adding excessive amounts of sugar to its baby and toddler products sold in developing countries. Public Eye and the International Baby Food Action Network analyzed around 100 Nestlé baby food products globally and found that 75 out of 78 Cerelac brand products purchased in Africa, Latin America, and Asia contained added sugar, with an average of 4 grams per serving. In contrast, Nestlé's products sold in Europe do not contain added sugar.

The investigation revealed that one Cerelac product in the Philippines had 7.3 grams of sugar per serving. Additionally, Nestlé's Nido brand products were found to contain added sugar in the form of honey, which the World Health Organization considers a sugar that should not be added to baby foods. While Nestlé claims its recipes comply with local laws and regulations, the investigation also criticized the company's marketing practices, including making health claims on its products and involving health professionals in the promotion of its products.

Why this matters: The excessive sugar content in baby and toddler products sold by Nestlé in developing countries raises concerns about the potential health impacts on vulnerable populations. This investigation highlights the need for stricter regulations and oversight of the infant food industry to ensure the well-being of young children in these regions.

A recent study examined the intake of low-nutritional value 'junk foods' and their association with growth and developmental outcomes in infants up to 18 months in low-resource settings. The secondary analysis of data from a randomized clinical trial on complementary feeding in four low- and middle-income countries found that junk food feeding was more common in Guatemala, Pakistan, and Zambia than in the Democratic Republic of Congo, increasing from 7% at 6 months to 70% at 12 months. Factors associated with junk food feeding included non-exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months, higher maternal BMI, more years of maternal and paternal education, and higher socioeconomic status. However, the prevalence of junk food use was not associated with adverse neurodevelopmental or growth outcomes over the study period.

The study's authors emphasized the need for nutritionally appropriate complementary foods, particularly in the first 2 years of life, to support optimal growth and development. "The study highlights the need for nutritionally appropriate complementary foods, particularly in the first 2 years of life, to support optimal growth and development, despite limited evidence on the impact of nutritional deficiencies," the researchers stated.

Key Takeaways

  • Nestlé's baby foods in developing countries contain high added sugar, unlike Europe.
  • Nestlé's marketing practices, including health claims, are criticized by investigators.
  • Excessive sugar in baby foods raises health concerns for vulnerable populations.
  • Junk food feeding in infants is common in low-resource settings, but not linked to adverse outcomes.
  • Nutritionally appropriate complementary foods are crucial for infant growth and development.