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Sally Mancini's picture

What toddler isn’t a picky eater? One day she loves broccoli and the next, it’s all over the floor. It is downright hard to find food that your child will try, let alone eat. As mothers, I’m sure that most of us have been concerned at one point or another that our child is either eating nothing or eating all the wrong things. It turns out food companies know our frustration and are using the marketing of baby and toddler food, and drink products, to play into our fears.

A new report released today by the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity takes an in-depth look at the marketing of baby and toddler food and drinks, on TV, in magazines, and online, as well as on product packages and compares the marketing messages to advice from health professionals on feeding young children.

Here’s what the Rudd Center found:


  • In contrast to nutritious baby and toddler fruit, vegetable, and meal products, only 4 out of the 80 baby and toddler snacks (i.e., puffs, cookies, and fruit snacks) analyzed were nutritious. Most  are no better than snacks like chips and cookies.  


  • Product names did not match the ingredient lists for approximately one-quarter of baby food and more than 40 percent of toddler food products. This may mislead parents about the ingredients in these products and make them think they’re as nutritious as fruits and veggies, when they’re not.  


  • Marketing messages promoted toddler drinks like toddler “formula”, Nido and Pediasure as beneficial for children’s development, especially growth and mental performance, and a solution for picky eating. Health experts do not recommend these products.


Overall, nearly 60 percent of advertising dollars promoted products that are not recommended for young children, including sugar-sweetened toddler milk, nutritionally poor snack food, and Pediasure, a high-calorie liquid nutrition supplement.

Join #FoodFri on Friday, November 4, 2016, to explore the world of baby and toddler food and drink marketing.

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