TORONTO (Reuters) - Most food products aimed specifically at children have poor nutritional content even though more than half of the products are marketed to the contrary, according to a Canadian study released on Monday.
The study, done by the University of Calgary, found that nine out of 10 food items provided poor nutritional value because of high levels of sugar, fat or sodium.
Just under 70 percent of the products - which excluded soft drinks, and confectionary and bakery items - derived a high proportion of their calories from sugar.
One in five had high fat levels, and 17 percent had high sodium levels.
Even so, 62 percent of the products with poor nutritional quality made positive claims on the front of the packaging, amid increasing concerns over childhood obesity.
“Parents may have questions about which packaged foods are good for their children,” said lead researcher Charlene Elliott in a statement.
“Yet certain nutritional claims may add to the confusion, as they can mislead people into thinking the whole product is nutritious,” she added.
The study, published in the July issue of the British journal Obesity Reviews, found that just 11 percent of the products studied provided good nutritional value according to criteria set by the Center of Science in the Public Interest, a U.S. nonprofit agency.
The study looked at 367 products and included products that had a cartoon on the front of the box or were tied to children’s films, television programs or other merchandise.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway