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Do Purees Promote Obesity?

Posted by felicity Saturday, October 25, 2014

“It’s on-the-go snacking and on-the-go nourishment."

"It moves with kids and puts the control in their hands
This is the opinion of Neil Grimmer, interviewed by the New York Times.To read the NY Times article in full, click here
Neil Grimmer is the chief executive of Plum Organics, a pioneer of food pouches, a product toddlers slurp while roaming around. We’re going to be writing a lot about these puree pouches over the coming months as they can be a perfect recipe for producing a fussy eater, and potentially a fat one! Why?  Here's just one reason:

Puree pouches will often be slurped quickly, which promotes obesity.
Many parents think that a pouch of apple puree is equivalent to an apple. This is not the case. Look at the ingredients of any smoothie and you will see that a small bottle contains several pieces of fruit, so you are actually eating much more than you would, were you faced with the whole fruit. 
One piece of research concluded that eating an apple stopped the hunger
more quickly than apple-puree or apple juice.
The whole apple retains the fibrous parts, meaning the body has to work harder to digest it. It also takes the brain approximately 20 minutes to activate feelings of satiety (hence why eating fast can be linked to obesity). 
Puree or juice is unlikely to take 20 minutes to consume, so your child may say they’re still hungry and therefore want to eat more. With an apple, they are likely to spend long enough eating it that their brain has time to activate the feeling of being full-up. 
Offering the odd puree pouch now and then as a snack for convenience isn't guaranteeing your toddler will become fussy or obese, but with Plum conservatively estimating sales of pouches for babies, toddlers and children at $53 million in 2012, we can't ignore the impact this growing trend is having on our children's eating habits.

Flood-Obbagy, J. E. and B. J. Rolls. 2009. “The Effect of Fruit in Different Forms on Energy Intake and Satiety At a Meal.” Appetite 52: 416-22.

Pan, A., and Hu, F.B. 2011. "Effects of carbohydrates on satiety: differences between liquid and aolid food". Current opinion in nutrition and metabolic care, 14(4): 385-90

Read more about introducing solids to your child and other ways to support your child with their eating in our latest book Worry-free Weaning.

Dr Anna Walton is a chartered counselling psychologist and Felicity Bertin is a registered paediatric osteopath. They work together supporting families with children who have fussy eating habits.