- a blog about food and value

Children’s food just as unhealthy as ever?

coco-popsThe Guardian reported recently that despite promises from food manufacturers to make kids’ food healtheir, many products that are marketed to children are still extremely high in sugar, salt and fat.

You might be surprised at some of the comparisons that the Guardian found between obvious junk food and food that is marketed as suitable, or even healthy, for kids:

Which of these pairs of snacks are better for your little darling?

1. A bite of MacDonald’s quarter-pounder with cheese? Or a Farley’s Toddler’s Own Mini-Cheese Biscuit?

2. A dark chocolate digestive? Or a Farley’s Original rusk?

3. A bite of Cadbury’s Picnic bar? Or a spoonful of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes?

4. A packet of Walker’s cheese and onion crisps, or the same weight in Tesco’s Special Flakes breakfast cereal?

You probably didn’t have much trouble with that. Obviously the naughty snack choices are better for a little ‘un – there’s less saturated fat, gram for gram, in the quarter-pounder, less sugar in the digestive and the Picnic bar, and much less salt in the crisps.

The article goes on to point out that sugary breakfast cereals are a particular offender: in fact, the likes of Frosties and Coco Pops would be more suitable as a dessert than a breakfast, as some of them are up to 37% sugar.

Unsurprisingly, the food companies are still experts at spinning the nutritional information to make unhealthy food look healthy.  Some of their tactics include suggesting really tiny portions as the ‘recommended serving’.  It seems like all the public health campaigns of the last few years haven’t changed too much in this area, and we still need to read the nutritional information as closely as ever.


  1. does not surprise me at all. Which? magazine released a report about two years ago on cereals – they are a disgrace. The only ones I eat myself now are weetabix (which actually has too much salt), shredded wheat or porrige as the rest are so sugar and salt filled its terrible. I don’t have any kids but I would hope that when I do I can stick to my guns on this!

    why can’t children just eat smaller portions of adult food ?

  2. SJ, most parents take for granted that their kids won’t like vegs or this or that. So they give them what they expect kids would like, i.e sugary food because it’s a fact that kids have a sweet tooth. But sugar and fat are addictive, so the more you give to kids, the more they get hooked. After the usual weaning stages, we started giving our toddler whatever we were having, mashed if needed. She eats everything but smoked salmon and some unpasteurised cheeses for health reasons. The meals at the creche are a disgrace, potato waffles, hot dogs and pizzas most days. No wonder why the kids love their junk if they are not introduced to new tastes and healthy foods early

  3. But of course it’s unhealthy, it’s processed food! The more processed a product is the more salt, fat and sugar they add – and that’s before you comment on bad for you colourings, flavourings and artificial sweeteners.
    I wouldn’t allow my kids to eat that junk in the creche, I’d send them in with sandwiches or move my kids. Our creche gets food in too, all parents were invited to taste it, it’s actually very nice. Before that we provided the food ourselves, which was great idea but loads of work!

  4. Chocolate cereals are full of sugar? Never!

  5. “most parents take for granted that their kids won’t like vegs or this or that”
    I second that! And I would add that many parents have a less than desirable diet themselves, which send kids all the wrong messages.
    My son was brought up to eat what we eat, and luckily for him we try to eat well and healthly. My approach to new foods was always: “if you/we don’t like it it’s ok (you don’t have to like everything) but honestly it’s a shame as you/we could be enjoying it, so give it a try!”