Home-cooked meals for infants not healthier than store-bought food, study says

Home-cooked meals for infants not healthier than store-bought food, study says

Home-cooked recipes provided more nutrients, however the majority of these recipes exceeded energy and fat recommendations.

Most parents believe that because a meal is cooked at home, where they can control the amount of seasoning and ingredient used, that it is healthier than mass-produced food in the supermarket.

According to a new study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, however, this isn’t the case.

Comparing 278 ready-made meals from supermarkets to 408 home-cooked meals based on recipes from 55 bestselling cookbooks for infants and young children, the study’s results revealed that commercially-bought food are in fact healthier.

"The majority of commercial meals met energy recommendations and can provide a convenient alternative which includes a greater vegetable variety per meal," said lead author Sharon Carstairs in a Telegraph story.

She added: "Home-cooked recipes provided more nutrients than commercial, however the majority of these recipes exceeded energy and fat recommendations.”

Meanwhile, in a Sydney Morning Herald story, Kate Aubusson said almost two-thirds of store-bought meals met the dietary recommendations for energy density compared to just over one-third of home-cooked meals.

In fact, homemade recipes had a higher sugar content with 2.5 grams compared to 2.2 grams per 100 grams in store bought products.

Ready made meals even had a greater vegetable variety per meal, one more than the home-cooked meals.

 

In terms of fat (including saturated fat) and protein, home-cooked meals had 44% more than store-bought food.

“Dietary fats contribute essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins together with energy and sensory qualities, thus are vital for the growing child, however excessive intakes may impact on childhood obesity and health,” as per Medical Xpress.

"Unlike adult recommendations, which encourage reducing energy density and fats, it is important in infants that food is suitably energy dense in appropriately sized meals to aid growth and development," the researchers said.

"Dietary fats contribute essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins together with energy and sensory qualities, thus are vital for the growing child, however excessive intakes may impact on childhood obesity and health."

Researchers also said that it is important in infants that food is suitably energy dense in appropriately sized meals to aid growth and development.

At the study’s conclusion, however, they warned parents against over-reliance on the convenience of store-bought food, highlighting the importance of a varied diet on children’s development and nutrition.

Photo credit: Philippe Put

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Written by

James Martinez

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