Quality of nutritional information for children under the age of two available in popular websites

Researchers at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora [Federal University of Juiz de Fora] (UFJF) and Universidade Federal Minas Gerais [Federal University of Minas Gerais] (UFMG) published a study in the Revista Paulista de Pediatria [São Paulo Journal of Pediatrics], in the issue of September 2016. The article analyzed if the information conveyed in popular websites are following the steps recommended in the Food Guide for Children under the Age of two from the Brazilian Ministry of Health (2010).

The authors emphasize that the first years in the life of a child, especially the first two, are characterized by fast growth and great evolution in the development process; therefore, it is an essential moment to implement good feeding habits. The Brazilian Ministry of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding until the baby completes six months of age and, after this age, it indicates the introduction of supplemental food. The early introduction of low-nutritional value and highly caloric food in the first years of life, as well as the exclusive breastfeeding period reduction are factors that contribute to allergic processes, food disorders, anemia and overweight, besides decreasing the protective capacity of the immunologic system. Despite the increased Internet access of parents and caregivers to obtain information regarding breastfeeding and supplemental food, by visiting popular websites that do not present scientific content, there is still a lack of Brazilian studies discussing this theme. Hence, the study carried out at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora aimed at analyzing if the information available in popular websites follows the steps recommended in the Food Guide for Children under the Age of two from the Brazilian Ministry of Health (2010).

The study was carried out during the months of August and October 2014, by searching (via Google) for popular websites focused on non-expert subjects in the Portuguese language, which included information regarding the feeding habits of children under the age of two. Data found in the 50 analyzed websites – among blogs, websites of food companies and websites specialized in children’s nutrition – were compared with the Food Guide from the Brazilian Ministry of Health (2010).

The information in such websites mostly did not follow the rules provided by the government, according to the authors. “Our results pointed out that only 10% of the 50 analyzed websites presented recommendations of the Food Guide correctly. In addition, most of the information seen in the evaluated websites contradict what is stated by the Brazilian Ministry of Health,” the professor Larissa Loures Mendes states – who is one of the research authors.

According to the professor, many parents and guardians search for information regarding their children’s nourishment in digital media (websites, blogs and social networks), but, although they use this source of information, they do not know their origin nor quality. “The study calls the attention to two facts: firstly, parents and guardians should be aware of what is conveyed in digital media regarding children’s nourishment. They should get informed in reliable websites or directly with their child’s nutritionist or pediatrician. Secondly, the content of websites directed to children’s nourishment should be controlled so that reliable information are diffused and might contribute to the prevention of diseases and to promote health,” the professor Larissa Loures Mendes highlights.

Larissa Loures Mendes
Universidade Federal Minas Gerais [Federal University of Minas Gerais], Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais, Brazil)
E-mail: larissalouresmendes@gmail.com

© 2017 All rights reserved