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Report shows toddler formulas offer no nutritional advantage

Toddler formula can cost about 10 times more than cow milk, but it offers no nutritional advantage, a new report finds.
Report shows toddler formulas offer no nutritional advantage
Posted at 2:23 PM, Oct 23, 2023

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a report indicating that formulas marketed for toddlers offer no nutritional advantage versus a varied, well-balanced diet that includes either human or cow milk. 

This is despite the fact that toddler formulas cost a lot more than regular milk. For instance, Target sells a variety of toddler formulas for an average of 30 cents per ounce. For regular milk, the cost is just pennies per ounce. 

The AAP's report says claims such as “improved brain development” or “improved immune function” on labels are "misleading." 

The AAP notes that the Infant Formula Act requires formulas to meet nutritional requirements as a sole source for infants through 12 months of age. But the Food and Drug Administration does not have such regulations in place for formulas marketed for older children. 

The FDA considers infant formula "a food which purports to be or is represented for special dietary use solely as a food for infants by reason of its simulation of human milk or its suitability as a complete or partial substitute for human milk." No such definition exists for toddler formula.

SEE MORE: FDA warns baby formula manufacturers over federal violations

Essentially the AAP says that packaging claims aren't backed by science, and toddler formulas could actually have components that are unnecessary or detrimental. The report noted that some products might contain too much sodium or added sweeteners compared to cow milk. 

“As a result, composition of these drinks is unregulated by the FDA and their promotion typically characterized by misleading claims,” said Dr. George Fuchs, lead author of the AAP's report.

The report noted that there is a distinction between toddler formulas marketed to wider audiences and medically necessary pediatric formulas. The report says that, unlike general toddler formulas, formulas intended to treat medical conditions are nutritionally complete. 

The AAP is advising pediatricians to educate families on nutritional intake and supporting well-balanced diets.

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