To evaluate the sodium and sugar content of US commercial infant and toddler foods.
We used a 2012 nutrient database of 1074 US infant and toddler foods and drinks developed from a commercial database, manufacturer Web sites, and major grocery stores. Products were categorized on the basis of their main ingredients and the US Food and Drug Administration’s reference amounts customarily consumed per eating occasion (RACC). Sodium and sugar contents and presence of added sugars were determined.
All but 2 of the 657 infant vegetables, dinners, fruits, dry cereals, and ready-to-serve mixed grains and fruits were low sodium (≤140 mg/RACC). The majority of these foods did not contain added sugars; however, 41 of 79 infant mixed grains and fruits contained ≥1 added sugar, and 35 also contained >35% calories from sugar. Seventy-two percent of 72 toddler dinners were high in sodium content (>210 mg/RACC). Toddler dinners contained an average of 2295 mg of sodium per 1000 kcal (sodium 212 mg/100 g). Savory infant/toddler snacks (n = 34) contained an average of sodium 1382 mg/1000 kcal (sodium 486 mg/100 g); 1 was high sodium. Thirty-two percent of toddler dinners and the majority of toddler cereal bars/breakfast pastries, fruit, and infant/toddler snacks, desserts, and juices contained ≥1 added sugar.
Commercial toddler foods and infant or toddler snacks, desserts, and juice drinks are of potential concern due to sodium or sugar content. Pediatricians should advise parents to look carefully at labels when selecting commercial toddler foods and to limit salty snacks, sweet desserts, and juice drinks.