Useful, tasty, and apparently healthy, food pouches appear to be the best solution, however, according to a study by The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) parents might consider pausing prior to stocking their pantries.
“It’s not about demonizing pouch foods, but approaching them with healthy caution and considering the options. What might be a split-second choice out shopping is actually a really important decision,” stated Courtney Byrd-Williams, Ph.D.
Byrd-Williams decided to research the health-related aspects of food pouches after she fell for their charm directly, being a mother of 2 young girls.
“Standing in the grocery aisle can be quite overwhelming. There are so many new products promising to deliver it all in one handy, hassle-free pouch. My girls like them and when you’re traveling, they’re a lifesaver,” Byrd-Williams told. “But from the outset, I’ve always been clear that they’re a ‘sometimes’ food…”
“Pouches may influence future food preferences – for example wanting apple puree as opposed to a whole apple. It takes 10 to 15 introductions of a new food to an infant or toddler in myriad ways for them to accept and enjoy it,” she stated.
“Weaning your child can be worrying for a parent, because gagging, an entirely natural process, can look like choking,” Byrd-Williams added. “But this is all part of the process of learning how to chew and developing those muscles required not just for eating and drinking, but also speaking. Food pouches may provide peace of mind in the moment at the expense of other vital mechanisms with broad implications.”
Data shows that about 1 in 5 U.S. children and adolescents are overweight. This is concerning, especially since pouch foods might encourage overeating.
Viewing 2 lunches of preschoolers, pouch foods were a common feature among all age groups.6 among 10 pouches were fruit blends, 4 among 10 were fruit and vegetable mashed together. None only vegetable.
“Vegetables coupled with fruit masks the real flavor of the vegetable. Parents may like to think their child is enjoying vegetables, but that’s not strictly true. They’re getting used to having sweetened vegetables, which is far from ideal,” stated Courtney.
“Learning is hard and messy and avoiding it isn’t the answer. When we consider what convenience food has done to adult health, there are plenty of reasons to pause before passing your child another pouch,” Byrd-Williams concluded.