Image via WikipediaThe "Claiming Health: Front-of-Package Labeling of Children's Food" [PDF] study examined over 50 products that food companies advertise as their healthiest for children -- "Smart Choices" was but one front-of-package label of many others still in use. In the spirit of fairness, the study authors didn't go looking for crap food: they selected products from an industry-created list that was part of its own "Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative," which selects products the industry has itself determined to meet good nutritional standards. From that list, the study authors then selected products with some type of "healthier for you" front-of-package labels and analyzed them using nutritional standards based on the National Academy of Science's 2005 "Dietary Guidelines for Americans."
The researchers concluded that in fact, 84 percent of those products did not meet these basic nutritional standards.
- More than half (57 percent) of the study products qualified as high sugar, and an astonishing 95 percent of products contained added sugar.
- More than half (53 percent) were low in fiber.
- More than half (53 percent) of products did not contain any fruits or vegetables; of the fruits and vegetables found, half came from just two ingredients -- tomatoes and corn.
- 24 percent of prepared foods were high in saturated fats.
- More than one-third (36 percent) of prepared foods and meals were high in sodium.