Toddler Formulas and Milks May Be Misleading Consumers With False Health Claims

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The formula vs breast milk argument has been happening for a long time, and it probably won’t end anytime soon. Some parents choose to use formula, some moms can’t breastfeed. As long as your baby is fed, that should be all that matters. Baby formula offers many of the same nutrients as breast milk, and is perfectly healthy. However, new products like toddler formulas and milks are gaining in popularity, and the science behind them isn’t as clear-cut. A new study suggests that these products are misleading, and make health claims that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Misleading labels on toddler formulas and milks may confuse parents on how healthy or necessary they really are, according to a study published in Science Daily.

These drinks are typically marketed toward children between 9 months and 3 years of age. They include “transition” formulas, and toddler milks. The marketing and labeling on these toddler formulas and milks makes them sound like they’re beneficial to a growing child’s health and development. However, most toddler drinks are made of powdered milk, corn syrup and other added sweeteners, and vegetable. They contain more sodium and less protein than regular cow’s milk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both recommend that toddlers consume a combination of cow’s milk and healthy foods. They say the toddler drinks are unnecessary and offer no advantage over regular milk.

Researchers visited stores and found that labels on toddler drinks almost all made at least one health or nutrition claim. Many brands made several claims. Those claims may lead parents and caregivers to believe these products are necessary. Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH, is an assistant professor of public health policy and management at NYU College of Global Public Health and the study’s lead author. She says, “All product labels made claims related to nutrition and health, and many made claims about expert recommendations that may lead caregivers to believe these products are necessary and healthy. In fact, they are not recommended by health experts, as there is no evidence that they are nutritionally superior to healthy food and whole milk for toddlers.”

Researchers are calling on the FDA to regulate labeling on toddler formulas and milks. This may include using accurate health and nutrition information. Also, clearly differentiating between infant formula, transition formula, and toddler milks.

Says Pomeranz, “Toddler drinks are unnecessary and may undermine a nutritious diet, yet manufacturers have expanded their marketing of these products. Therefore, it is important for labels to be clear, transparent, and accurate.”

(Image: Pixabay)