Most make one or more health claims that are not true, and one product is described as "the number 1 brand recommended by paediatricians"—even though the paediatricians' professional body in the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends families feed their infants a "nutritious diet", and not use formula.
Researchers from New York University's College of Global Public Health say that the manufacturers' marketing practices "undermine the diets of very young children". The manufacturers have previously been accused of misleading young mothers into believing that formula was superior to breast milk. In the latest study, the researchers looked at products aimed at toddlers up to the age of three—for which manufacturers have recently increased their marketing spend—and found a similar pattern of misleading claims.
Almost all of the products that were tested by researchers were made up of powdered milk, corn syrup or other added sweeteners, vegetable oil, and contained more sodium and less protein than cow's milk.
The researchers are calling on America's food regulator, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), to provide better guidance to parents, and regulate the claims made by manufacturers.
(Source: Preventive Medicine, 2018; 109: 11-16)