Chronic diseases like diabetes are skyrocketing, and children are predicted to have a shorter life span than their parents. Parents want healthy food for their kids, and they want accurate information to guide them.
But parents are being fundamentally misled, says Prevention Institute's new study, released through Strategic Alliance. Claiming Health: Front-of-Package Labeling of Children's Food examined products with front-of-package labeling—those products that food companies choose to identify as healthier. Claiming Health found that 84% of products studied failed to meet basic nutritional standards.
Contrary to the claims on the labels, study findings reveal:
- More than half (57%) of the study products qualified as high sugar, and 95% of products contained added sugar.
- More than half (53%) were low in fiber.
- More than half (53%) of products did not contain any fruits or vegetables; of the fruits and vegetables found, half came from just 2 ingredients—tomatoes and corn.
- 24% of prepared foods were high in saturated fats.
- More than 1/3 (36%) of prepared foods & meals were high in sodium.
Claiming Health underscores that the current system is broken: we can't count on food companies to decide which products receive front-of-package labels and what information those labels include. Without FDA regulation, instead of giving more information to parents struggling to make the best decisions for their kids, families are being misled. The food industry can—and should—do better. Our families deserve it.
Three days after the study was released, Monday, January 24th the Grocery Manufacturer's Association (GMA) announced the launch of another front-of-package labeling initiative. "These new food industry labels are still voluntary—and companies can still continue to pick and choose which products they're on" say lead study author Juliet Sims. "Families will still be at the mercy of food companies, without accurate, comparable and useful information. "
The GMA's inclusion of ‘nutrients to encourage' only further confuses things for parents-adding healthful nutrients to highly processed foods and then touting them as a good choice is simply misleading. Read Prevention Insitute's statement on the new front-of-package labels here.