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News Article

Toddler milks- time for more regulation in the US?

Experts recommend legislation for toddler milks

Public health researchers are recommending the FDA provide regulations about labelling of formula milks for young children – so called toddler milks. A study from New York University and the University of Connecticut has concluded that since these milks are not as regulated as formula for infants, companies are displaying misleading information about their healthiness.

Childhood nutrition is important in setting lifelong diet and could be important for preventing obesity. Toddler milks are a growing drinks category and they consist of transition formulas aimed at those aged 9-24 months and toddler milks aimed at those aged 12-36 months, they typically contain powdered milk, sucrose or corn syrup, and vegetable oil.

WHO does not recommend use of toddler milks. The organization issued some guidance on follow-on formula in 2013. That explicitly states that continued breastfeeding up to age 2 years while introducing solid foods is best for children. If breast milk is unavailable there are alternatives including full cream cow’s milk or infant formula and so follow on formula is unnecessary. WHO also regarded it as unsuitable because of its composition at that time. Any milk that is marketed as a replacement for breast milk comes under the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

The study published in Preventive Medicine examined the policy and regulation of toddler milks in the USA and then the packaging and claims on the products. The researchers compared the labelling with that of infant formulae, which are heavily regulated.

They found that in the USA toddler drinks are not specifically regulated. They found the milks were given a variety of names, which is confusing, and that the labels made multiple health claims. “All product labels made claims related to nutrition and health, and many made claims about expert recommendations that may lead caregivers to believe these products are necessary and healthy. In fact, they are not recommended by health experts, as there is no evidence that they are nutritionally superior to healthy food and whole milk for toddlers,” said Jennifer Pomeranz, the lead author.

The study also discovered that toddler drinks were marketed with similar branding to infant formulae which could also confuse consumers about their appropriateness.

The researchers conclude that there is a loophole in regulations and that legislation should be tightened. They suggest that US policy and existing regulations can support better labelling as it is recommended internationally.

Toddler drinks, formulas, and milks: Labeling practices and policy implications Jennifer L. Pomeranza, Maria J. Romo Palafox and Jennifer L. Harris. Preventive Medicine Volume 109, April 2018, Pages 11-16

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • I. Hoskins
  • Date
  • 07 February 2018
  • Source
  • New York University
  • Subject(s)
  • Nutrition & health