Do food labels tell the full story?


    Why nutritional information on some children’s products could be misleading 

    Despite many of the foods and drinks we buy for our little ones being marketed towards children, for many of them, research suggests that the nutritional information is actually based on the calorie intake of adult females.

    Following concerns about childhood obesity and kids’ sugar intake, a report by the NHS in 2011 recommends that younger children under 10 years consume much less than the guidelines currently stated on food and drink packaging. As a guideline, for those aged seven years old, the recommended daily calorie allowance is 1,649 for boys and 1,530 for girls. This rises to 2,032 for boys and 1,936 for girls aged 10 and over.

    According to the NHS, reference intakes listed on food labels are based on the average-sized woman (2,000 calories per day), and parents aren’t adjusting their child’s intake accordingly.

    “Ultimately it is down to the education of the parents,” says Steve Williams, clinical services director at mydentist. “Just like with an adult, it can be difficult to judge how many calories a child should be consuming. Children can be very active, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be eating whatever they want. I believe the important thing to bear in mind is that children are being given the correct kind of calories to eat for their all-round health – as difficult as that may be sometimes! This includes healthy meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables and proteins, rather than empty calories from sweets and chocolate.

    “This will give them a burst of energy for a while, but it can have long-term implications on their oral and general health,” he adds.