The British Specialist Nutrition Association (BSNA) and its members recognise their responsibility in meeting the challenges posed by obesity. Infants and young children have specific dietary needs which are different from those of older children or adults: the food and drink they consume during their first thousand days can impact on their health both today and in the future.

We look forward to more detail about the strategy, and the targets for food and drinks designed for babies and toddlers in due course.  However, in the meantime the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is planning to review the nutritional content of the ‘Processed Cereal-based Food and Baby Food’ regulation in the next few years.  EFSA’s review will ensure that the regulatory requirements for these foods match the latest scientific thinking on the specific nutritional needs for infants and young children.

We fully support the provision of information on infant and young child feeding to midwives and health visitors to ensure they are able to appropriately educate and support mothers and carers in making the best dietary choices for their families. Such information will also enable healthcare professionals to feel confident that they are able to provide the best support on the appropriate age of weaning, which is an important milestone for babies and parents. It is important that parents establish healthy eating habits from a very young age.

More about sources of sugars in infant foods

The current EU rules on ‘Processed Cereal-based Food and Baby Food’, which the UK adheres to, ensure that these foods are formulated specifically to limit the amount of salt, saturated fats and sugar, and to contain the correct amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, fibre, vitamins and minerals that infants and young children require.

It is important to recognise that infants and young children do need moderate amounts of sugars and carbohydrates in their diet. Sugars are a readily digestible energy source and breastmilk itself contains sugars in the form of lactose.

Milk-based drinks for infants and young children meet very strict compositional requirements. They are not sweetened with glucose or sucrose (table sugar); they contain lactose, which is an intrinsic sugar naturally found in milk.

Sugars are also naturally present in fruit and vegetables and therefore found in the foods made from these ingredients.  Carbohydrates and sugars from fruit and vegetables will be present whether the food is home-made or commercially prepared.