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Named And Shamed: List Of 'Healthy' Kids' Snacks Called Out As Worst For Children

A new study has found that most kids' snacks marketed as being a 'healthy' option have just as much sugar are chocolate bars and lollies.

As though navigating the shopping aisles and trying to decipher what's good for you and what's not isn't hard enough, new research has found toddler products making claims about nutrition and containing 'real fruit' are actually high in sugar and full of processed ingredients.

The study, conducted by the Obesity Policy Coalition looked at 57 toddlers snacks that are on sale at supermarkets such as Woolworths, Coles and Aldi, calls out how wide spread the issue of hidden sugars in this product category really is.

Heinz Little Kids Chocolate Custard and Vanilla Custard.

The problem is predominantly caused by the lack of clear food labels that don't show the difference between naturally occurring sugar (such as those found in fruits and dairy) and sugars that are added to sweeten the food.

“What many people don’t realise is that sugar sourced from fruit in these products can be highly processed and should in fact be labelled as added sugar," Cancer Council Victoria dietitian Alison McAleese, who undertook the analysis, said.

Most of the products we surveyed had ambiguous and inconsistent ingredient names. Parents currently don’t have the information they need to make informed decisions about foods to purchase for their children.

Further to this, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, Jane Martin, said food companies are taking advantage of busy parents, using sneaky marketing tactics to entice them into buying unhealthy products.

“You wouldn’t give your toddler lolly snakes, and yet many parents are being tricked into buying sugar-laden snacks dressed up as healthy. Given the amount of sugar, it’s virtually the same thing," she said, adding that parents deserve to know what's really in the products they're feeding their kids.

Keep it Cleaner: Banana and mixed berry balls (left) and Little Bellies Organic Sultanas (right).

"Currently, that is hard to do as added sugars are not grouped together on the ingredients list or listed separately on the nutrition information panel. With 40 different names for sugar, even the ingredients list can’t always be relied upon to help parents make an informed choice.”

You can see the full list of products analysed below according to grams of sugar per serving (from most to least):

  1. Little Kids Chocolate Custard - Heinz (13.3 grams)
  2. Little Kids Vanilla Custard - Heinz (13.3 grams)
  3. Banana and mixed berry balls - Keep it Cleaner (11 grams)
  4. Sultanas  - Little Bellies (10.5 grams)
  5. Buckwheat and cacao balls - Keep it Cleaner (9.3 grams)
  6. Mango, goji berry and Greek yoghurt brekkie - Only Organic (9.2 grams)
  7. Little Rollies Hazelnut and Vanilla Rice Snack - Bubs Organic (8.8 grams)
  8. Little Rollies Quinoa and Millet snack - Bubs Organic (8.6 grams)
  9. Little Kids Banana, Mango Muesli with Greek style - Yoghurt Heinz (8.3 grams)
  10. Raspberry Crispie Tiddlers - Kiddylicious (7.6 grams)
  11. Pear, Apple and Banana Freeze Dried Fruit - Rafferty's Garden (6.8 grams)
  12. Little Kids Berry and Pear Muesli with Greek style - Yoghurt Heinz (6.5 grams)
  13. Little Kids Yoghurt muesli fingers: Fruit Salad Flavour - Heinz (6.4 grams)
  14. Little Kids Wholegrain Cereal bars: Apple and Blueberry - Heinz (6.2 grams)
  15. Fruit and Oat Bars: Apple and Raisin soft bars with yoghurt - Mamia (6.1 grams)
  16. Fruit and Oat Bars: Strawberry flavoured soft bars - Mamia (6.1 grams)
  17. Fruit and Oat  Bars: Apricot flavoured soft bars - Mamia (5.8 grams)
  18. Kids snack bar: Apple - Rafferty's Garden (5.7 grams)
  19. Apple fruit snack cereal bars - Mamia (5.4 grams)
  20. Pear and Banana fruit snack cereal bars - Mamia (5.2 grams)
  21. Apple Snacks - Bellamy's Organic (5.1 grams)
  22. Kids snack bar: Blueberry, banana and apple - Rafferty's Garden (5.1 grams)
  23. Kids snack bar: Banana- Rafferty's Garden (5 grams)
  24. Tiddly Bar: Fruit cereal bar - Bubs Organic (4.9 grams)
  25. Kids snack bar: Apple and raspberry - Rafferty's Garden (4.5 grams)
  26. Yoghurt Buttons: Strawberry - Rafferty's Garden (4.4 grams)
  27. Strawberry and Banana Smoothie melts - Kiddylicious (4.0 grams)
  28. Yoghurt Rice Cakes - Only Organic (3.5 grams)
  29. Strawberry yoghurt rice cakes - Only Organic (3.2 grams)
  30. Animal biscuits - Little Bellies (2.9 grams)
  31. Organic Gingerbread men - Little Bellies (2.8 grams)
  32. Organic wildlife cocoa biscuits - Byron Bay Cookie company (2.4 grams)
  33. Organic farm animal biscuits: Cocoa - Whole kids (2.3 grams)
  34. Organic farm animal biscuits: Vanilla - Whole kids (2.3 grams)
  35. Mini coconut rolls - Kiddylicious (1.4 grams)
  36. Wafer bites: Beetroot and Shallot - Rafferty's Garden (1.3 grams)
  37. Coconut Rice rolls - Little Quacker (1.1 grams)
  38. Rice biscuits: Strawberry flavour - Little Quacker (1 gram)
  39. Carrot stix - Organix Goodies (1 gram)
  40. Organic Rice rusks: Sweet potato and carrot - Baby Mum-Mum (less than 1 gram)
  41. Premium rice rusks: Banana - Baby Mum-Mum (less than 1 gram)
  42. Sprouted brown rice puffs: Mixed vegetables - Little Quacker (less than 1 gram)
  43. Sprouted brown rice puffs: Banana - Little Quacker (less than 1 gram)
  44. Little fingers tomato floured mini breadsticks - Bubs Organic (less than 1 gram)
  45. Little fingers mini breadsticks - Bubs Organic (less than 1 gram)
  46. Saucy tomato noughts and crosses - Organix Goodies (0.8 gram)
  47. Organic Cheese and Herb Fiddlesticks - Little Bellies (0.6 gram)
  48. Cheese and Herb puffs - Organix Goodies (0.6 gram)
  49. Sour cream and chive Lentil straws - Kiddylicious (0.5 gram)
  50. Tomato fiddlesticks - Little Bellies (0.5 gram)
  51. Veggie Straws - Kiddylicious (Less than 0.5 gram)
  52. Garden Cheese Chickpea Pops - Rafferty's Garden (0.4 gram)
  53. Organic Rice and Corn puffs: Apple - Whole kids (0.2 gram)
  54. Heinz little kids: Mini corn cakes (tomato) - Heinz (0.2 gram)
  55. Cheesy straws - Kiddylicious (0.2 gram)
  56. Organic dinosaur puffs: Cheese and leek - Whole kids (0.1 gram)
  57. Wafer bites: Cheese - Rafferty's Garden (0.1 gram)

With food ministers meeting on Friday 15 November, health advocates are urging them to use this as an opportunity to make added sugar labelling mandatory to help not just parents, but all consumers in knowing how much sugar is added to supermarket foods.

Featured image: Woolworths