Children's snack bars unhealthy

Some snacks claiming to be healthy alternatives for children’s lunch boxes can be as bad for kids as confectionery.
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  • Updated:31 Jul 2009

01.Children snack bars unhealthy

Children’s snack bars can be as fattening as some chocolate bars, according to new research by Australian parents and a leading nutritionist, who are calling for better food labelling on the snacks.

Continuing their Food Detectives campaign, Dr Rosemary Stanton and children’s health advocacy group, The Parent’s Jury, revealed the results of their investigation into children’s snack bars, exposing the marketing spin behind such products.

The study compared the actual nutrient content and marketing claims on more than 20 children’s snack packets, finding Kellogg’s LCMs to contain more sugar, fat and salt than a snack-sized Milky Way.

LCMs are promoted as a “sure-fire lunch box hit”, with television advertisements showing children shunning healthy lunches in favour of the sugary snack. However, according to Stanton, “this product should not be recommended as a regular lunch box food. It has little dietary fibre and contains a harmful level of saturated fat.”

Nature’s Way’s Kids Smart (gluten-free chocolate) Bars contain a fat and sugar content similar to that of a regular sweet biscuit. With more than 20 items on their ingredient list, Stanton argues there are too many added ingredients to make up for a fundamental lack of nutrition in these bars and that kids who need a gluten-free product deserve better.

The placement of products in supermarkets is also deceiving, with Kid Smart Bars found in the health section and LCMs sold in the muesli bar aisle. However, CHOICE’s past investigations have discovered even muesli bars may not be the healthy fix kids need.

Cereal bars, muesli bars and breakfast bars may have a healthy image, but most are more than 20% sugar, and some deliver more saturated fat than a packet of chips. What’s more, event the “fruit” can be a sham – no more than a laboratory creation of chemicals and sugar.

Both CHOICE and The Parent’s Jury support a front-of-pack traffic light food labelling system that colour-codes levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium on packaged foods, enabling consumers to make informed choices at a glance.

Read the full report on each product on the Parent's Jury website.


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