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May 30, 2014

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Panel warns of risks from snacks, beverages

THE Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission wants standards on packaged snacks and bottled beverages as some of them pose health risks for children.

A survey, which interviewed 900 parents with children between the ages of 3 and 16 years, found that adults and children consumed the same snacks and beverages in China.

“As children’s liver and kidney are not fully developed, there should be a strict standard on snacks and drinks consumed by them,” said Tao Ailian, the commission’s general secretary.

She said some of the packages were misleading which lured parents into believing they were more suitable for children or were healthier. If adults were having the same snack or beverage as children, then pictures of children should not be used on the packaging, the commission said.

The survey released yesterday and ahead of the Children’s Day on June 1 found almost 70 percent of parents admitting their children had snacks every day or almost every day. Nearly 50 percent of the parents said they had no idea about the nutrition content listed on the food packages or beverages. A good 60 percent said their children drank bottled beverage every day or nearly every day.

The commission therefore wanted local authorities to draft a standard to regulate the market and eliminate leisure food and beverage that are not suitable for children.

On an average, parents were found spending 292.90 yuan (US$47.09) per month on snacks and beverages for their children. As the kids grow older, the expenses go up.

The survey also found 9.4 percent of overweight children between the ages of 3 and 7 regularly consume junk food accounts. It was 14.7 percent for 8 to 12 years old, and 25.4 percent for children between 13 and 16. The numbers were nearly similar for bottled beverages — 9.8 percent of overweight children between 3 and 7 years old were frequent consumers of bottled beverage. It was 17.1 percent for those between 8 and 12 years old and 23.5 percent for children between 13 and 16 years old.

The commission tested 132 snacks and beverages sold in the market. A pack of Jiabao dried tangerine or orange peel contained a whooping 6,700 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams. High sodium levels cause elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.


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