(ABC NEWS)- So-called toddler drinks are a growing category of beverages for young ones, but their labels may be misleading customers about their nutrition and health benefits.
A study published Monday in the journal Preventive Medicine noted that the drinks — marketed for children 9 to 36 months who are transitioning from breast or formula feeding to solid foods — are not recommended by medical experts and provide “no advantage” over whole milk and a nutritionally adequate diet, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
“Our study builds on previous research demonstrating that manufacturers’ marketing practices may undermine the diets of very young children,” said the study’s lead author Jennifer L. Pomeranz, J.D.
Most toddler drinks are typically composed of powdered milk, corn syrup solids or other added caloric sweeteners, and vegetable oil, according to the study, conducted by researchers at the NYU College of Global Public Health and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. They contain more sodium and less protein than whole cow’s milk.
Researchers also said that the drinks’ labeling makes them look like infant formulas, which are subject to more oversight by U.S. food label laws and regulations. The study recommended the Food and Drug Administration “provide guidance or propose regulations to ensure the appropriate labeling of toddler drinks,” according to the press release.
Two first-time mothers and three nannies at a Mommy and Me class in Manhattan had never heard of “toddler drinks” when asked by ABC News, but when shown labels of three popular brands of toddler drinks next to the same company’s formula, they acknowledged the labels were very similar.
However, manufacturers of the toddler drinks maintain the beverages are “safe.”