Home cooked meals for infants not always better than supermarket bought ones, British Medical Journal
A new UK study has found home cooked baby food is not necessarily superior to store bought options.
Published online by the British Medical Journal’s Archives of Disease in Childhood, the research discovered even though home cooked meals are usually cheaper, they generally exceeded dietary fat and energy density recommendations.
If organic ingredients were used, home cooked baby foods were however often more expensive than pre-made store bought options.
How the study worked
To come up with their conclusions the researchers studied the nutrient content, price and food group variety in 278 readymade UK supermarket sold savoury infant meals (174 of which were organic) and 408 home cooked meals using recipes from 55 bestselling cookbooks.
As part of their findings the researchers found the home cooked options had a greater amount of vegetable content but the commercial, pre-prepared products contained higher vegetable variety per meal (three different vegetables compared to two in the home cooked meals).
The home cooked meals provided 26 per cent more energy and 44 per cent more protein and total fat.
Almost two thirds (65 per cent) of commercial products met dietary recommendations on energy density but only just over a third of home cooked meals did so. Over half (52 per cent) of the home cooked foods exceeded the maximum recommended energy range.
Home cooked meals were however approximately half the price of supermarket meals.
Despite the positive findings in favour of readymade supermarket baby foods, the researchers have recommended parents do not rely solely on these products to feed their children. The researchers also said there was a lack of seafood in all the meals which parents should be wary of.
“The high proportion of red meat-based meals and recipes and low seafood meals are of concern when dietary recommendations encourage an increase in oil-rich fish consumption and limitation of red and processed meats,” the researchers said.