Nutritional quality of a selection of children's packaged food available in Australia

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Abstract

Aim:

To assess the nutritional quality of a selection of children's packaged food products available in Australian supermarkets that were not clear discretionary choices.

Methods:

Packaged food products targeted towards children were purchased from three Australian regional supermarkets in July 2013. Products that made reference to a core food group ingredient on the product label or did not meet the criteria of a discretionary food were included for analysis. Two methods were used to assess the nutritional quality of the products. These methods involved the Food Standards Australia New Zealand nutrient profiling scoring criterion and a core food group method developed by the researchers. Nutrient composition and ingredients were obtained from the product labels. Products were classified as ‘healthy’ or ‘less healthy’ and the level of agreement between the two methods was compared.

Results:

Of the 156 children's food products assessed, 62.2% (n = 97) were classified as ‘less healthy’ using the Food Standards Australia New Zealand nutrient profiling scoring criterion. Using the alternative core food grouping method 66.7% (n = 104) of products surveyed were classified as ‘less healthy’.

Conclusions:

Many children's food products available in Australian supermarkets should be considered discretionary choices.

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