Young mothers in the UK are getting babies as young as five months old hooked on junk food even before they learn to chew, scientists, led by an Indian-origin researcher, have found.
Researchers followed the diets of children aged 12 to 18 months in a two-year study of 1,250 babies who were born in the UK.
“Some mums were giving children chips, crisps and sugary drinks at five months old,” said Professor Pinki Sahota, head of nutrition at Leeds Beckett University in the UK.
“Low-educated younger mothers tended to be the worst. A lot of them have not got the cooking skills,” Sahota said.
One mother quizzed by researchers about how much cooking she did at home said, “not much - we send them down the road to get burger, chips and a drink for 99 pence,” she said.
Another child’s first teeth were already black when they came through as the infant had been given cola in the feeding bottle, the ‘Mirror’ reported.
The mother of another boy, who had no teeth and was already overweight, would cut the ends off chips and squeeze the potato into his mouth, researchers said.
“Parents are giving kids junk food because they are eating it themselves,” she said.
“The fact children are having this kind of food at such an early age is concerning enough. But parents are establishing bad eating habits for life,” Delhi-born Sahota said.
“Older, more educated parents knew the value of fruit and vegetables,” she said.