There has been a lot of buzz surrounding baby food recently. You have the Baby Food Diet, which has been linked to celebrities like Jennifer Aniston. And, now we have a controversy over baby food made, well, for actual babies.
Nutritionists and others concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S. are crying foul over new chocolate- and vanilla-flavored baby food.
We already know that there has been research linking obese parents to the likelihood of obese children. But, do we have to make it even more of a certainty by getting babies attached to chocolate basically at birth?
Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. introduced the flavors as beverages for toddlers who are transitioning from infant formula or breast milk. The chocolate and vanilla formulas are milk-based, but contain 19 grams of sugar per 7-ounce serving.
Mead Johnson is trying to mitigate concerns.
“The toddlers’ years can be particularly challenging since food preferences may be erratic and unpredictable,” said Mead Johnson spokesman Chris Perille. “Products such as Enfagrow Premium can play a role in helping children achieve a more balanced, healthy daily diet.”
But nutritionists, like Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, disagree.
“You want kids to be interested in eating a very, very wide range of foods because variety helps create nutritional balance,” she said. “You don’t want them to think that every food needs to be sweet or salty.”
Mead Johnson is one of three companies that dominate the baby food industry. In 2022, the company reported total sales of $2.8 billion, with $1.9 billion from infant formula and $900 million from children’s nutritional products, mostly toddler milk.