Even infants aren’t exempt from the Western diet, with research showing that half of all Kiwi infants have tried foods with high sugar or salt.
The newly announced research from the Ministry of Social Development’s Children and Families Research Fund found that at nine months of age, more than half of infants in New Zealand tried foods high in sugar or salt, such as chocolate and chips.
“They shouldn’t be exposed to those things at all under one,” said nutritionist Nikki Hart. “That’s just not appropriate.”
Meanwhile, only 37 percent were eating fruit twice or more daily and 33 percent eating vegetables twice or more daily.
Almost one-third of all infants had tried an inappropriate beverage by nine months of age, like coffee, juice, tea or soft drinks.
Ms Hart emphasised that it’s not just products like Coco-Cola that should be avoided. Fruit juice, while seemingly innocent compared to its bubbly counterpart, should not be consumed by young children.
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While Ms Hart admits that effects on infants is still not widely understood, there are strong theories that suggests infants eating salt or added sugar could develop on-going preferences for those flavours.
She says this could theoretically lead to children with excess weight, a predisposition for weight gain, or even diseases like type 2 diabetes.
“We really need to address this as a public health issue,” she said.
Listen to the full interview with Nikki Hart above.