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NEARLY eight out of every 10 packaged foods marketed specifically for children are junk, according to a report out tomorrow. They are high in saturated fat, sugars, salt or artificial additives, with important nutritional information often missing from labels. And they could put the children who eat them at increased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. The shock findings are revealed in a survey by independent watchdogs the Food Commission, which brands 77 per cent of items targeted at children as "a nutritional disaster". And that was not even counting crisps, sweets, soft drinks and fast food. Dr Tim Lobstein, co-director of the Food Commission, said: "It is outrageous that manufacturers are doing this to our children. It's time manufacturers accepted responsibility for the nation's health instead of trying to cut corners and boost profits." Researchers visited six supermarket chains to study foods marketed specifically for children. A third of the 358 foods examined were too poorly labelled to be assessed, and of the rest 77 per cent were branded as "disasters" when their nutritional content was assessed. Parents should be looking for products with no more than 3g of total fat, 1g of saturated fat, 2g of sugars and 0.1g of sodium per 100g, according to Government guidelines. Dr Lobstein said: "We left out crisps, soft drinks and confectionery because we knew they'd have high levels of fat, salt and sugar. "We wanted to give the manufacturers a fair chance. They are keen to tell us they don't sell junk food." Some 30 per cent of the foods looked at had high levels of saturated fat, 56 per cent were high in sugar and 45 per cent were high in salt. More than half the foods - 57 per cent - had added flavourings. Dr Lobstein said: "Cooking things in fat is cheap and quick, but it means the product has a huge amount of calories. Sugars are cheap and salt adds to the flavour. "Developing a taste for energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods increases the likelihood of children being overweight, possibly obese in adulthood, with all the health problems that go along with that." A Nestle spokeswoman said: "No individual food can be called 'healthy' or 'unhealthy'. It's the overall balanced diet that needs to be nutritious." CHECK WHAT YOUR CHILD CHOOSES... Nestle Whirly Flings Butterscotch dessert 60 per cent sugar in dry mix (30 times recommended amount) Kellogg's Smacks Cereal and milk bar contains 58 per cent sugar (29 times the recommended amount) Nestle Maxi Mooze Condensed milk snack 56 per cent sugar (28 times recommended amount) Asda Garden Gang Coconut cubes contain 28 per cent saturated fat (28 times the recommended amount) Rivington Pink Panther wafers 27 per cent saturated fat (27 times recommended amount) Bestfoods Fun Pots Chicken/mushroom noodles 1.8 per cent sodium (18 times recommended amount) Kraft Dairylea double cheese Lunchable 16 per cent saturated fat (16 times recommended amount) Sainsbury's Mr Men cheese slices 15 per cent saturated fat (15 times recommended amount) Yeo Valley Crazy Creatures yoghurt 25 per cent sugar (12.5 times recommended amount) Highgrove Foods Noddy strawberry yoghurt With sweets. 25 per cent sugar (12.5 times recommended amount) Nestle 101 Dalmatians fromage frais 22 per cent sugar (11 times recommended amount) Nestle Herta hot dogs 29 per cent fat (almost ten times recommended amount)
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Author:Burns, Emma
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2000
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