Nestle’s baby food brands sold in developing countries contain high levels of added sugar –

Nestle’s baby food brands sold in developing countries contain high levels of added sugar

New findings from an investigation by Swiss outlet Public Eye and the International Baby Food Action Network revealed that Nestle’s leading baby food brands, promoted in low- and middle-income countries as healthy and key to supporting young children’s development, contain high levels of added sugar.

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Meanwhile, in Switzerland, where the food giant is headquartered, such products are sold with no added sugar. Critics point out that the recent probe showed Nestle’s hypocrisy and its deceptive marketing strategies, presenting itself as the world leader in infant nutrition while meticulously “targeting” each stage in a child’s first years of life. Nestle currently controls 20 percent of the baby food market, valued at nearly $70 billion.

According to a report, Cerelac and Nido are some of the multinational companies’ best-selling baby food brands in third-world and developing countries. Nestle promotes them as brands that aim to help children “live healthier lives” and to be fortified with vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients, tailored to the needs of babies and young children and help to strengthen their growth, immune system and cognitive development. According to exclusive data obtained from Euromonitor, their sales value in this category was greater than $2.5 billion in 2022.

The probe found the baby products to contain added sugar, often at high levels, which is directly contrary to the claim that they offer “the best nutrition.” In fact, in Senegal and South Africa, Cerelac cereals contain six grams of added sugar per serving. Manufacturers may try to get children accustomed to a certain sugar level, so they prefer products high in sugar, getting them hooked on sugar at such an early age.

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Ben Bartee, a Bangkok-based American journalist, pointed out on his Substack how one need not have done an endocrinology residency to understand how devastating six grams of added sugar would be for a 10-pound baby.

“If one were inclined to conspiracy theory, one might surmise that feeding infants high-fructose corn syrup is nothing but gravy for the medical-industrial complex, a guaranteed lifelong customer created with every feeding!” said Bartee. Sweetness might seem innocent, but it is not safe to introduce into babies’ diets, given it affects their systems in multiple ways, some of which are harmful to their long-term health prospects.

Excess sugar puts infants in great health risks

According to experts, newborn babies primarily receive their nutrition from breast milk or infant formula in case of inadequate breast milk availability. Both sources already contain an appropriate balance of lactose, essential fats, proteins, minerals and nutrients that the baby needs. Giving sugar beyond what is naturally present in breast milk or formula can be problematic.

Extra sugar can lead to rapid weight gain, Dr. Tanushri Mukherjee, pediatrician and neonatologist at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals in Mumbai said. This increases the risk of childhood obesity and associated health issues later in life, adding that this can also disrupt the baby’s natural appetite regulation, leading to poor feeding habits and a higher likelihood of overeating as they grow older. Another risk that a child could face is blood sugar issues.

“Newborns are particularly susceptible to fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Adding excess sugar to their diet can initially cause a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a rapid drop,” said Mukherjee. “This drop can lead to hypoglycemia, a condition where blood sugar levels become dangerously low. Hypoglycemia in newborns can result in symptoms such as jitteriness, poor feeding, lethargy, and even seizures in severe cases. Long-term hypoglycemia effects can be intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Added sugar in infant food can also adversely affect a baby’s digestive system, leading to gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. It can also disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, compromising the baby’s immune system and overall gut health. Moreover, excessive sugar intake early in life can set unhealthy patterns for future dietary habits or hard-wiring. Babies given sugary solutions might develop a preference for overly sweet tastes, which can contribute to a higher risk of obesity and other metabolic issues later in life like type 2 Diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

A baby’s behavior and mood may also be affected as sugar can cause a temporary spike in energy with hyperactivity followed by a crash, leading to irritability, fussiness, difficulty sleeping and difficulty in concentration.

The administration of extra sugar or glucose solutions to newborn babies is typically reserved for specific medical situations or conditions where it becomes necessary to stabilize the baby’s blood sugar levels, including hypoglycemia, extreme low birth weight babies, management of neonatal abstinence syndrome, treatment of transient neonatal diabetes mellitus and post-surgery or critical care. (Related: Leading baby food brands contain arsenic and lead levels that damage the brain, causing autism in young children.)

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Watch the video below that tackles Nestle’s scandals, scams and cover-ups.

This video is from the Vigilent Citizen channel on

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