Food packaging nutritional labels for children’s products are confusing parents and the products can be packed with high concentrations of sugar, according to a study conducted by researchers at The University of Glasgow.

The study analysed 322 products aimed at children, including yoghurts, juices, fruit snacks, breakfast cereals and cereal bars. The results showed that three-quarters of children’s food packaging nutritional labels falsely claim to provide a full portion of the recommended five a day.

The University of Glasgow researchers said: “Health and nutrition claims used on product packaging are currently confusing. Prepacked foods targeted to children can be consumed as part of a ‘healthy’ diet, yet their health and nutrition claims remain questionable.”

The researchers called for stricter labelling and attributed the heavy use of cartoon characters as a factor in Britain’s obesity crisis.

They said: “Given the current rising rates of childhood obesity, the consumption of less healthy foods may have long-term negative implications on child health.

“Strict regulations on product composition, food labelling and marketing techniques are required to discourage the promotion of foods which might be considered obesogenic.”

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Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) Dr Max Davie said: “Given the UK’s rising levels of childhood obesity, it is essential that parents and children know precisely what is in the products they consume and are not mislead by manipulative marketing campaigns.

“This study reveals concerning findings, particularly the disappointing levels of fruit and veg in products claiming to contain at least one portion of the Government’s recommended five-a-day.

“It is clear that families are being influenced by surreptitious food packaging, and we strongly support the researchers’ call for stricter regulations on composition and labelling.”