(NaturalNews) A new sugared toddler formula is drawing fire from parents and nutritionists who warn that it may prevent children from developing healthy eating habits.
Mead Johnson Nutrition's Enfagrow Premium toddler chocolate and vanilla formulas are designed for toddlers who are transitioning away from breast milk or infant formula. The "follow-on formulas" are an attempt to keep consumers buying the company's products for a greater proportion of childhood.
Formula maker Abbot Nutrition also produces a follow-on toddler formula, but Abbot's product is unsweetened.
A single seven-ounce serving of Enfagrow contains 19 grams of sugar, plus added probiotics and omega-3s. Mead Johnson says the point of the product is to encourage healthy eating by teaching children to drink milk.
But according to New York University nutritionist Marion Nestle, the product is likely to have the opposite effect, teaching them to crave sweets and spurn other foods.
"You want kids to be interested in eating a very, very wide range of foods because variety helps create nutritional balance," she said. "You don't want them to think that every food needs to be sweet or salty."
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that at age one, the average child experiences a significant drop in appetite due to slowed growth. Rather than being concerned that their toddlers are not eating enough, parents should simply make several nutritious food options available for their children at each meal. If a toddler refuses to eat, the food should be put away and offered again when the child is hungrier.
"In the short term, it may seem like 'I just want to get nutrition in this child,' " said Jill Houk of Centered Chef Food Studios, "but in reality, you're creating a very bad situation."
A blogger on Momlogic.com agreed, blasting Enfagrow for teaching young kids to love unhealthy foods.
"Is it really a good idea to get our kids hooked on all things chocolate at the same time they're learning to walk?" the blogger asked.
"What's next, genetically modifying moms to produce chocolate breast milk?" another said.