He Congress of the republic recently raised a legislative proposal that is called “Law that regulates the preparation and marketing of foods for special diets for vulnerable populations” and establishes the exemption of baby formulas from carrying octagons in their containers. However, this initiative is already in force due to theSupreme Decree No. 017-2017-SA —issued in 2017— that excludes these supplements (breast milk substitutes) from carrying these warnings that persuade consumers about the amount of sugar, sodium or trans fat in their products.
The position of the legislature has generated a great deal of criticism, since it is not in accordance with the Ley N.º 30021 (Healthy Eating Law), which states that any food that is within the limits of sugar, sodium and trans fats or exceeds them must be duly marked. Some of the entities that raised their voices were the Medical College of Peru (CMP) and the College of Nutritionists of Peru (CNP) arguing that baby formulas can contain up to twice as much sugar as soda. Regarding this point, The Republic talked to the nutritionist Pierina Papadopoulosfor more information on the pros and cons of this proposal
YOU CAN SEE: Are baby formulas high in sugar? Why don’t they have octagons?
Importance of good nutrition in babies
Adequate nutrition during the first months of a baby’s life is crucial for its development and healthy growth. Therefore, the consumption of breast milk is recommended during the first six months of life. However, many parents turn to infant milk formulas when breastfeeding is not possible. Added to this, it is advisable to take into account that sugar should not be included in these formulas, since it can severely affect the health of the child.
YOU CAN SEE: Baby formulas must have octagons
Consequences for the health of babies
Risk of childhood obesity.- Early sugar consumption may predispose infants to developing childhood obesity and, in the long term, increase the risk of obesity in adulthood. Added sugar in infant milk formulas can establish a preference for sweet flavors, which can lead to increased sugar intake in infancy and later in life. Negative impact on dental health.- Early exposure to sugar can increase the risk of dental cavities in babies. Sugars are broken down in the mouth by bacteria present in dental plaque, producing acids that damage tooth enamel. The presence of sugar in milk formulas can promote the growth of cariogenic bacteria and increase the risk of tooth decay in babies. Digestive problems.- Babies’ digestive systems are immature and are not prepared to digest large amounts of sugar. The inclusion of sugar in milk formulas can cause stomach upset, gas and diarrhea in babies. In addition, excessive sugar consumption can alter the balance of the intestinal microbiota, which can negatively affect the digestive health of babies. Increased risk of chronic diseases.- High sugar intake from an early age has been associated with an increased risk of developing chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic disorders. Avoiding early exposure to sugar in milk formulas may help reduce this risk in infants.
Conclusion as a specialist
The inclusion of sugar in infant milk formulas is not recommended due to the associated health risks. Childhood obesity, dental problems, digestive disorders and increased risk of chronic diseases are some of the negative consequences that can arise from the early introduction of sugar in babies’ diets.
It is important to consult with a pediatrician to choose an appropriate milk formula to provide optimal nutrition for babies without including sugar. Breastfeeding continues to be the preferable and most recommended option whenever possible, because it will guarantee adequate nutrition, disease prevention, and strengthen the immune system from an early age.