A survey by the British Dental Association has worryingly found that many baby food pouch products are very high in sugar – and pose many oral health dangers to children. They have urged the Government to step in to tackle this problem. Furthermore, these sugary pouches are linked with the rise in the number of children requiring treatment for tooth decay.

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The British Dental Association (BDA) has completed a survey into baby food pouches – with worrying results. They reviewed the sugar contents of over 100 pouches – which are a popular food for young children and babies.

Incredibly, they have found that many baby food pouches have a higher sugar content than Coca-Cola – the fizzy drink which is renowned for its high sugar content [1]. Therefore, these pouches unfortunately cause tooth decay.

This problem is linked to the large number of British children that are requiring dental treatment for tooth decay, cavities and erosion. This is despite the implementation of the Government’s “Sugar Tax” – which aimed to curb obesity and associated rises in oral health treatment [2].

Key findings of the survey

The BDA reviewed 109 food pouch products that were aimed at children under 12 months [1]. Because these products are aimed at babies, it is important for them to be healthy. This ensures children’s teeth can form without the presence of sugar.

The BDA took into account the levels of sugar in these products. The amount of sugar contained in a product must be listed on the packaging – in line with British law. But an issue exists where some products can have nutritional information displayed “per 100ml” – potentially clouding the judgement of parents.

Furthermore, all of the products that were high in sugar had labelling that could be construed as misleading. For example, some stated they were “organic”, or “high in fibre”, or contained “1 of your 5 a day” [1]. Therefore, the BDA suggested that such words could mislead parents into thinking they were making healthy choices.

Shockingly, more than a quarter of the 109 products contained more sugar by volume than Coca-Cola [1]. Furthermore, many of these contained sugar levels the equivalent of up to 150% of the fizzy drink!

The problems caused

The survey produced worrying results. From an oral health perspective, it is concerning to think that many children will be exposed to high levels of sugar from a young age.

The BDA has warned that many infants suck directly from pouches [1]. Therefore, this results in the high-sugar food spending more time in contact with the baby’s mouth. This results in the chances of tooth decay developing becoming higher.

The BDA noted that the vast majority of products made no mention of how infants shouldn’t suck straight from the pouch. In one case, one product explicitly recommended that the infant “eat straight from the pouch” [1].

There were also concerns from the BDA about how 40% of the products investigated were marketed at babies “four months plus”. However, this is in direct opposition to the World Health Organization’s guidance, which recommends weaning children off of such foods from 6 months old [3].

The BDA heavily criticised well-known brands Ella’s Kitchen and Annabel Karmel for their significantly high levels of sugar. The BDA found that some brands managed to offer similar products to the above, albeit with half the level of sugar [1].

Chairman of the BDA – Eddie Crouch – talked of the oral health issues such pouches can cause [1]. He said that “tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, and sugar is driving this epidemic” [1]. Crouch continued by saying “these products sadly risk hooking the next generation before they can even walk” [1].

The next steps

Now that the scale of this problem has been identified, attention turns to what can be done to tackle this issue. The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care is expected to imminently review the marketing and labelling of infant food.

Dental professionals have stepped in to warn against the impact that sugar in these food pouches could have [1]. They have proposed that the aforementioned Sugar Tax should be levied onto these products – in an effort to force manufacturers to make their recipes healthier [1].

Crouch has also called for a further tightening of marketing regulations. The UK has some of the strictest marketing regulations when it comes to marketing products at children on television. In fact, legislation in 2021 was passed which stopped unhealthy foods being advertised on British television during daytime [4].

Dentists will hope that changes are made soon. Therefore, this will limit the number of children who develop tooth decay at a young age. It will also stop infants from developing needless pain. Based off of the high number of children needing dental treatment, these changes are needed as soon as possible.

Thinking points…

1) This article serves as a reminder that we should all read nutritional information of our food more closely. Foods that appear healthy may not actually be! If in doubt, you can ask your dentist for advice. On this note, ensure you see your dentist regularly – they can look at your overall oral health, and recommend treatment if needed. We recommend booking an appointment soon!

2) Do you, or someone you know, have children? If so, consider sharing this article with them. These findings are very worrying! If you have children, remember to pay attention to their food and set a good oral health example to them. This involves brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and attending a dental clinic for a check-up frequently.

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a range of treatment options and advice aimed at improving oral health.

It is crucial to brush your teeth at least twice a day and to floss regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is important.

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, tooth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

In addition, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide.

We would love you to visit our Taradale Dental dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website https://taradaledental.ca.


[1] Clarke, J. (2022). Baby food pouches ‘more sugary than Coca-Cola’, dentists warn. Available: https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/baby-food-pouches-more-sugary-230100342.html. Last accessed: 15th July 2022.

[2] Pell, D., Mytton, O., Penney, T. L., Briggs, A., Cummins, S., Penn-Jones, C., Rayner, M., Rutter, H., Scarborough, P., Sharp, S. J., Smith, R. D., White, M., & Adams, J. (2021). Changes in soft drinks purchased by British households associated with the UK soft drinks industry levy: controlled interrupted time series analysis. 372 (n254). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n254.

[3] World Health Organization. (2021). Infant and young child feeding. Available: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infant-and-young-child-feeding. Last accessed: 15th July 2022.

[4] Department of Health and Social Care. (2021). New advertising rules to help tackle childhood obesity. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-advertising-rules-to-help-tackle-childhood-obesity. Last accessed: 15th July 2022.