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Grocery store baby food lacking in nutrients

Infants fed a diet based on jars of ready-made, grocery store baby food are likely getting inadequate amounts of nutrients, says a team of British researchers. The study, originally published in the journal Food Chemistry last year, is getting a fresh round of press after being announced by the University of Greenwich School of Science last week.

health and fitness Updated: Apr 24, 2012 18:01 IST

Infants fed a diet based on jars of ready-made, grocery store baby food are likely getting inadequate amounts of nutrients, says a team of British researchers.

The study, originally published in the journal Food Chemistry last year, is getting a fresh round of press after being announced by the University of Greenwich School of Science last week.

In an interview with Relaxnews, lead author Nazanin Zand said the point of her research is to draw attention to a forgotten but sigificant dietary source for kids -- store-bought baby food -- and take a more holistic look at infants' daily nutritional intake.

"I'm trying to raise awareness and say, 'can we please pay attention to this area' instead of concentrating so much on breast milk," she said.

After analyzing eight different samples of baby food produced by four commercial supermarket brands, Zand found that the micro-nutrient content contained less than a fifth of the recommended daily supply of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and other minerals.

The samples included four meat and four vegetable varieties. Brand names were not disclosed.

One jar of meat and one jar of vegetables on top of 600 ml of formula milk, for instance, was found to be lacking in calcium, magnesium, copper and selenium.

On average, the study found that the levels fell below 20 percent of the recommended daily nutrient supply in the UK.

Zand said another study analyzing the macronutrient content -- protein, carbohydrates and fats -- of baby food is soon to be published, while a paper on toxic elements is also under review.

The latest study builds on other studies which found that allowing infants to feed themselves finger foods from the start of their weaning has been shown to foster healthier eating habits and ward off childhood obesity.

In a study published earlier this year in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that children who were spoon-fed food purées were more likely to be overweight and obese than children who were allowed to feed themselves with finger foods.

Authors also suggested that giving infants whole foods like toast may enhance a child’s perception of food textures and steer them towards developing a taste for carbohydrates rather than sweet and sugary foods.

Meanwhile, BabyCenter.com offers tips and suggestions on how to make homemade baby food. Good fruits to start with include apples, bananas, peaches and plums, while vegetables can range from carrots, peas and potatoes to sweet peppers.

Freezing portions in ice cube trays can also provide a stock of baby food supplies.