Mead Johnson's Enfagrow Premium contains more than 25 additives supposedly intended to boost growth, brain development and immunity for the kids -- but some say the massive amounts of added sugar for flavoring may contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic.
ABC News reports:
"The company responded to the firestorm of criticism by dropping its new chocolate-flavored product, which critics have considered the worst offender with 19 grams of sugar ... In a prepared statement ... Mead Johnson said there had been 'some misunderstanding and mischaracterization regarding the intended consumer' of the product."
Mead Johnson markets Enfagrow for children ages 1 to 3 who have been weaned off breast milk or infant formula.
Mead Johnson's Enfagrow, a nutritional supplement for toddlers, is little more than fortified milk with added sugar. The first three ingredients on the label are just that: whole milk, nonfat milk and sugar.
Enfagrow also contains a smattering of vitamins, omega-3, prebiotics and antioxidants, which is what Mead Johnson keys in on in their marketing messages, calling Enfagrow a “delicious nutritious addition to his daily diet -- one that’s specifically tailored for a toddler.”
But parents were not happy when the company rolled out their new chocolate flavor earlier this year, which packed a walloping 19 grams of sugar per serving. Nothing like hooking your 1-year-old on sweet, chocolate-flavored sugary drinks right from the get-go to set him up for a lifetime of weight problems and health issues!
Since When is Sugar and Corn Syrup Good for Toddlers?
The list of ingredients in Enfagrow is, strangely, not available online, so it took going to the grocery store to read the package in person to find out what it actually contains.
While the vanilla flavor is sweetened with sugar, the unflavored variety contains corn syrup solids, i.e. fructose -- precisely the ingredient that is contributing to the obesity epidemic facing both adults and children in the United States. You might as well be giving your baby a bottle of Coke or Pepsi!
I’ve written numerous articles about the dangers of consuming fructose, including its ability to disturb your metabolism, elevate blood pressure and triglycerides, cause weight gain, heart disease and liver damage, and even deplete your body of vitamins and minerals.
There is no way that an infant should be consuming any corn syrup whatsoever, and the fact that Enfagrow is being marketed as a nutritional supplement for kids, when it’s loaded with sugar and/or corn syrup, is incredibly deceptive.
Fortunately, due to the public outcry the chocolate flavored Enfagrow was discontinued after just four months, but the vanilla flavor, which contains 16-17 grams of sugar, is still on the market, along with unflavored varieties that contain up to 11 grams of sugar, including corn syrup solids.
When Enough Parents Speak Up, Manufacturers Listen
This is a wonderful example of how powerful your voice can be in prompting change in the consumer marketplace. Mead Johnson is out to make a profit, and they know very well that if enough parents are upset about an issue, word will spread, fast, at the expense of their bottom line.
And parents were indeed outraged that a chocolate-flavored, sugar-filled beverage was being promoted as a nutritional supplement for near babies, many whom had just transitioned from breast milk or formula and had only been eating regular food for a very short time.
In a statement about the product’s discontinuation, the company wrote there had been:
"… some misunderstanding and mischaracterization regarding the intended consumer" … and "the resulting debate has distracted attention from the overall benefits of the brand."
In other words, they were getting enough bad press that they decided to pull Enfagrow Chocolate, lest it tarnish the image of Mead Johnson’s other products.
In the future, remember the power that you, your friends, and your family have in the marketplace, and be quick to voice your opinions about products you think are unhealthful or dangerous.
Tips for Feeding Your Picky Toddler
Toddlers are known for being picky eaters, but you must keep trying to introduce a variety of healthy foods nonetheless. It can take 10-15 times before a child will accept a new food, so if you’ve tried offering peas or chicken and your toddler would have no part of it, try, try and try again.
What you want to avoid is giving in to your child with a sweetened fortified beverage like Enfagrow, as this will establish a pattern that your toddler will likely want to continue. A much better alternative if you’ve been breastfeeding would be to continue supplementing your toddler’s diet with breast milk until you can transition over fully to solid foods.
You will also want to avoid the common mistake of feeding your infant cereal. Cereal is often one of the first solid foods to be introduced into the infant diet and most pediatricians encourage their patients to start these foods at about 4 to 6 months of age.
This is truly unfortunate, as grains are not a healthy choice for most people, including infants, and infants fed cereal also have an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
Instead, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, egg yolk should be your baby's first solid food, starting at 4 months, whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Egg yolks from free-range hens will contain the special long-chain fatty acids so critical for the optimal development of your child’s brain and nervous system.
However, the egg whites may cause an allergic reaction so they’re best avoided until your child is at least 1 year old.
Infants will also do just fine starting out on a vegetable source of carbs, and simply cooking a squash or sweet potato, mashing it up and putting it into an ice cube tray is an easy way to have ready-made multiple servings available for the rest of the week. By alternating a wide variety of veggies with quality sources of protein like organic chicken and grass-fed beef, you’ll be giving your toddler a foundation of nutrition to grow on.
Resist Falling Into the Junk-Food Trap
Most parents do try to feed their kids relatively healthy, but a lot of factors tend to get in the way. First of all, there’s so much misinformation out there about what’s healthy and what’s not, that adults are often confused about what to eat themselves, let alone what to feed their kids.
There’s also so much junk-food advertising aimed at children that nowadays kids think anything worth eating must be bright blue, sugary, salty or sour, and turn their tongue orange when they eat it. It helps if the “food” is also shaped like some sort of cartoon character or action figure.
But consider this: a survey from the America On The Move Foundation found that 71 percent of children get information about how to be healthy from their mothers, and 43 percent get such information from their fathers.
Further, the New York Times pointed out that preschoolers will like or reject the same fruits and vegetables that their parents like or dislike. And girls are more likely to be picky eaters if their mothers don’t like vegetables. So the more you embrace a healthy diet and share that enthusiasm with your children, even at a very young age, the more likely they are to follow suit.
Finally, it’s important that you avoid giving your toddler too much fruit juice, milk or supplemental drinks like Enfagrow because these beverages will make your child full. Most toddlers will not eat if they’re not hungry, so you want to be sure you’re filling your child’s tummy with real, nutritious food instead of various beverages.