Babies who are as young as five months old are already being fed junk food, according to a study.
The Daily Mail reports, researchers found children were becoming reliant on sugary and fatty foods before they were even able to chew.
The scientists followed the diets of 1,250 babies, and came across a number of shocking cases – including a baby whose first teeth were black when they came through because they had been fed cola in a bottle.
Lead researcher Professor Pinki Sahota, of Leeds Beckett University, said: ‘Some mums were giving children chips, crisps and sugary drinks at five months old.
‘The fact that children are having this kind of food at such an early age is concerning enough. But parents are establishing bad eating habits for life.’
Researchers looked at the diets of children in Bradford who were aged 12 to 18 months, the Daily Mirror reported.
Professor Sahota explained: ‘Low-educated younger mothers tended to be the worst.
‘A lot of them have not got the cooking skills. Parents are giving kids junk food because they are eating it themselves. Older, more educated parents knew the value of fruit and vegetables.
‘But many teenage mums were filling kids’ plates with chips and crisps seven times a week, or more, by the time they were 18 months.’
She added: ‘There’s a real need for education. Schools have a role, then midwives and local authorities.
‘But they need to be supported by the food industry. They could reformulate some of their high-fat and high-sugar products.’
The WHO (world health organisation) recommends –
- exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life.
- introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
- start at 6 months with small amounts of food and increase gradually as the child gets older.
- gradually increase food consistency and variety
- increase the number of times that the child is fed: 2-3 meals per day for infants 6-8 months of age and 3-4 meals per day for infants 9-23 months of age, with 1-2 additional snacks as required
- use fortified complementary foods or vitamin-mineral supplements as needed
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