News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


NZ Babies Exposed to a High-Sugar Diet

A leading child health and obesity expert is warning babies are being weaned into a high sugar diet from as young as four months old – and the problem is being unheeded by health officials.

Dr Gerhard Sundborn, of the University of Auckland’s School of Population Health, says commercial baby foods that are high in sugar can cause as much risk of obesity and tooth decay as sugary drinks. And the risks are greater as sugary foods tend to start being given to babies before drinks.

“We are concerned that infants from four months of age are exposed to foods high in concentrated sugar as their first foods. Some commercial baby foods contain up to four
teaspoons of sugar per serve,” Dr Sundborn says.

"Parents are trying to do the right thing and they are being mis-lead around what is healthy for their baby."

Dr Sundborn has made the claims in the latest issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal in a paper titled “New Zealand infants weaned onto a high sugar diet from four months old: better health or better business?”

In one example, a 120g pouch of fruit puree contains 16g of sugar. This equates to four teaspoons of sugar and the package is labelled as a single serve.

On a visit to a local Auckland supermarket, of 33 single serve baby food products examined, 22 (66 percent) exceeded two teaspoons of sugar per serve. Of these, 11 contained two to three teaspoons of sugar, a further 10 items contained three to four teaspoons, and one product contained four teaspoons.

“What concerns us is that some of these products are endorsed by Plunket. This is confusing could mislead the New Zealand public and parents into thinking these products are healthy food items for their infants.”

“In Canada, the US and the UK, researchers, health professionals and health advocates have found that many commercially-prepared baby foods contain unacceptably high concentrations of sugar — with serving sizes that frequently exceed recommended daily allowances. Further, parents and people responsible for public policy tend to overlook this issue.”

He as comments that “Plunket is part of the fabric of NZ society and we can’t allow a situation where people begin to question their credibility”

Dr Sundborn says he would like to see the New Zealand Ministry of Health establish an Infant Nutrition Advisory Group to prepare guidance about the ingredients of baby foods.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Obituary: Whānau Announce The Passing Of Bruce Stewart QSM

Matua Bruce was an award-winning builder before he embarked on a journey to build Tapu Te Ranga Marae in 1974... He built Tapu Te Ranga Marae from recycled material with just $25 and a dream. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The America’s Cup

The fact New Zealand now reigns supreme once again in the most sophisticated contest in the world’s most elite sport – yacht racing – can’t help but reflect the trajectory the country has been on since the 1980s... More>>


Howard Davis: Christopher Marlowe & 'The Tragedy Of Dr. Faustus'

Previous versions of 'The Devil's Pact' can be traced back to the fourth century, Marlowe deviated significantly by depicting his protagonist as unable to burn his books or repent to a merciful God in order to have his contract annulled... More>>


Gold For RNZ: Muslim Post-9/11 Series, Kim Hill Win In New York

The Radio New Zealand podcast series Public Enemy has won a gold award for excellence for its presenter, Mohamed Hassan, at the prestigious New York Festival Radio Awards announced in Manhattan today. RNZ National’s Saturday Morning host, Kim Hill, also received a gold award for Best Radio Personality. More>>

Human Rights Commission: Give Nothing To Racism

A campaign urging New Zealanders to give nothing to racism and refuse to spread intolerance has been launched by some of the country’s most well-known people. More>>

Louis Vuitton Series Win: Emirates Team NZ Will Challenge For The America’s Cup

By beating Artemis 5-2 they now take on Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup match starting next weekend. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland