CHEESEBURGERS, Big Macs and chocolate biscuits are healthier than some foods designed for babies and toddlers, many of which contain more sugar, salt or fat than similar products marketed to adults.
A examination of foods marketed for babies and toddlers up to the age of three found that many foods contained more saturated fat, sugar or salt than Big Macs, cheeseburgers and Tim Tam biscuits.
Kraft and Heinz products were among the worst offenders, with Heinz Little Kids Muesli Fingers containing 8.1g of saturated fat and 42g of sugar, compared to Be Natural trail bars nut and fruit aimed at adults with 1.5g of saturated fat and 20.4g of sugar.
A dietitian and researcher Therese O'Sullivan, based at the nutrition and development research team at the Telethon Institute for Child Research, said the average energy daily intake for a two- to three-year-old was 17g of saturated fats and 79g of sugar. There was no reason why children's foods should be higher in fat than similar products for adults.
She said parents should choose less processed foods for their children and encourage a healthy diet because childhood food preferences flowed into adulthood.
"If kids are given the choice between one of the oat biscuits and a carrot stick, it's not going to be a hard choice," Dr O'Sullivan said. "But if they are not given the option, they don't know any different."
The consumer group Choice last week revealed that many breakfast cereals aimed at children were packed with excessive sugar and salt.
Its senior food policy officer, Clare Hughes, said many snack foods marketed for children were high in fat, sugar or salt to appeal to young tastebuds.
A spokeswoman for Heinz Australia said the company's Little Kids range had been designed according to strict nutritional guidelines.