Ultra-Processed Foods marketed for infants and young children in the UK

This new report from the deservedly widely trusted charity, First Steps Nutrition Trust (FSNT) follows on from Chris van Tulleken’s book and is yet more essential reading.  While many have highlighted the excessive free sugars and misleading marketing of commercial baby and toddler foods, few have tackled the health implications of the processing for our youngest citizens.  FSNT bites the bullet and addresses this knowledge gap, advocating the NOVA classification of food processing and making seven recommendations to the UK Government. As with all FSNT materials – the aim is to make it easier for families to help children eat well for life.

FSNT also hosts the Baby Feeding Law Group – that was founded by Baby Milk Action in 1997 to strengthen UK baby feeding laws in line with UN recommendations.

Ultra-processed foods (UPF) in the diets of infants and young children in the UK

further reading:


Packaged food, packaged life argues that the abundant consumption of corporate brands in slums does not merely stem from individual lifestyle choices but also is the result of historical circumstances that preclude good living conditions and limit opportunities for people who resort to corporate packaged food. Drawing on his own fieldwork and exhaustive review of related literatures, Heriberto Ruiz Tafoya identifies the constraints that characterize a packaged life not as a definitive status but as an ongoing process. His perspective comes from his own experiences as urban poor in Mexico and from the eclectic amalgamation of the Latin American ethical and political approach of buen vivir (living well or life in fullness) and its Philippine counterpart ginhawa (vital spirit that animates our well-being).

The book is a pioneering work on packaged-food diets in the global south, serving as a reliable reference for readers interested in the retail and consumption of processed food especially by marginalized communities.
The book launch was part of the Policy and Governance of Sustainable Food Systems webinar series of the SDSN PH SDG2 Zero Hunger Project.

Chris Van Tulleken’s, Ultra-Processed People

It’s clear why this fascinating book continues to be a best seller – once you start reading you won’t be able to put it down. For too long, many nutrition campaigns have focused only on ‘nutrients’ and problematic ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat – the perfect distraction.   As the consummate communicator, Chris explains in his non judgmental way, how and why UPFs have been the silent, unstoppable cash generator that have allowed corporations to change our taste palates, displace real food, damage our health and harm the environment.  Nestlé is far from the only culprit – but if you haven’t been boycotting this company yet …read this book.  In bookshops and available in audio and digital format. 

Listen to Chris’s 20 minute  presentation on UPFs at the WBC4

Bio: Chris van Tulleken is an infectious diseases doctor at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London. He trained at Oxford and has a PhD in molecular virology from University College London where he is an Associate Professor. His research focuses on how corporations affect human health especially in the context of child nutrition and he works with UNICEF and The World Health Organisation on this area. As one of the BBC’s leading broadcasters for children and adults his work has won two BAFTAs. He lives in London with his wife and two children.


UPF flyer


Further links about the importance of real food and the risks of processing

The Shrinking Brain by Michael A Crawford (Author), David E Marsh (Author)

“The rise in brain capacity from the 340cc when we left the chimpanzees to the size of early H, sapiens of 1,600cc or more could only have been powered by wild foods. That would have included the relevant nutrient supply to the mothers and the infant who likely was breastfed for two years or more.  It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that the processed foods of today bear little resemblance. With the brain shrinking, mental ill-health escalation and the measure of intelligence falling the most likely reason for the increasing brain disorders, loss of IQ and declining brain capacity is the new reliance on processed foods and the like. “
Its all in his new  book,  The Shrinking Brain, publlished 7th June 2023
Long time Baby Milk Action members will remember Prof’s Crawford’s analysis of Follow-on Formulas when they were first introduced in the early 1980s.
Our 2010/11 campaign for a ban on promotional claim, used  this briefing for MEPs.  Among our concerns was the safety of ingredients. 98 reports were made to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicating that a subset of babies couldn’t tolerate synthetic DHA enriched formulas.   see our 10 reasons to stop this DHA claim briefing for MEPs  and the campaign in 2011 to stop the claims.

The ultra-processed food industry in Africa

Ultra Processed foods make you over-eat. by Arun Gupta, New Indian Express

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