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Children's milk does less than it promises
The so-called children's milk has no advantages over low-fat cow's milk and is usually considerably overpriced. This is the conclusion reached by the Baden-Württemberg Consumer Protection Center when examining the products traded as cow's milk substitutes, which are said to be specially adapted to the needs of children.
In addition to the consumer protection center, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) does not see any health benefits in the special milk drinks for small children. These are "not better than cow's milk", but mostly significantly more expensive, according to the BfR. The consumer protection center also criticized that the term “children's milk” was misleading, since the products should not be understood as milk, but as a powder mixed on the basis of skim milk and other ingredients such as maltodextrin, vegetable oils and flavorings. Enrichment with vitamins and minerals may even result in an uncontrolled increase in nutrient intake, which increases the risk of being overweight, for example.
Overpriced children's milk without health benefits The Consumer Protection Center Baden-Württemberg took a closer look at the children's milk advertised as particularly healthy by the manufacturers and found that it has no significant advantages for toddlers compared to low-fat cow's milk. The parents are often tempted by the promised plus in calcium and vitamins, but the children's milk offered for children from the twelfth month of life actually does not offer any health benefits, according to the consumer advice center and the BfR. However, the products are up to four times more expensive than low-fat cow's milk from the supermarket, the consumer advocates report. As part of the current investigation, the consumer protection center examined 21 children's milk products from five different manufacturers, with the average price of the products being EUR 1.75 per liter. The most expensive children's milk should even cost 2.27 euros. At standard supermarket prices of EUR 0.54 per liter of milk or EUR 1.09 per liter of organic milk, children's milk therefore appears to be significantly overpriced - especially since the raw materials in production only cost a few cents, according to the Consumer Center. For the parents, the inflated prices mean an annual additional effort compared to low-fat cow's milk of 245 euros, the consumer center said.
Vitamins and minerals as an argument for children's milk According to consumer protectionists, the comparison between cow's milk and so-called children's milk is only possible to a limited extent anyway, since the milk replacement drinks are sold in powder form. In addition, the term "children's milk" is extremely questionable at this point, since the skimmed milk powder enriched with maltodextrin, vegetable oils and other additives has little in common with natural milk. In addition, individual products with a particularly high calcium content are advertised, but actually contain a third less calcium than cow's milk, the consumer protection experts explained. Manufacturers justify the advertising promise "healthier than cow's milk", for example with the lower protein content and the higher amounts of artificially added iron and vitamin D. The children's milk is explicitly "tailored to the nutritional needs of small children" is the promise of the manufacturers. In addition to the added vitamins and minerals, which are said to contribute to the optimal mental development of the children, the children's milk also has a reduced protein content compared to cow's milk, which is to prevent later overweight, according to another argument of the manufacturers for the expensive milk replacement drinks. However, these arguments are by no means shared by the consumer protection center and the BfR.
Children's milk is not necessary for a balanced diet Children's milk is "not necessary from a nutritional point of view", emphasized BfR President Andreas Hensel. The enrichment of children's milk with vitamins and minerals should also be assessed critically, as this could, for example, lead to an excessive supply of iron or zinc. So there is a risk of over-supply with certain nutrients, while others are absorbed to a much lesser extent than with cow's milk. With regard to the reduced protein content, the BfR explained that, to date, it has not been sufficiently scientifically proven whether a reduced protein intake in childhood is associated with a reduced risk of being overweight later in life. Overall, children's milk does not offer any advantages for the nutrition of children compared to low-fat cow's milk, and it is not necessary for a balanced diet, according to the consumer protection center. According to the experts, parents can therefore confidently dispense with the special infant milk products and, from the tenth month, according to the recommendations of the nutritionists, slowly get their children used to a balanced diet with cow's milk as an essential component. (fp)
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