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Vitamin gummies not so good for children

Parents have always felt pressure to do the right thing for their children but with the ever increasing reach and variety of media outlets it sometimes feels difficult to know what the right thing is. This has created a market for products that didn’t exist 50 years ago and this new market seems to be booming. The question is, is there a need for products such as child vitamins, or vitamin gummies? Associate professor Ken Harvey of Monash University is firmly in the no camp.

Harvey recently co-authored an article with nutritionist Rosemary Stanton, professor Stuart Dashper and Eliza Li in The Conversation arguing additional regulation is required for vitamin gummies, as these products fall between the regulatory bodies Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA) and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). Currently, the items are marketed as complementary medicines, predominantly sold in pharmacies, despite limited empirical evidence showing their medicinal value.

The gummies aimed at children can have up to 50 per cent sugar content and are additionally coated in sugar crystals. As long as the products are designated as medicines manufacturers are not required to include a list of ingredients on the packaging, nor percentages identifying the amount of sugar in the products. Professor Harvey argues the high sugar content negates any value to the vitamin content of the gummies. He also said that due to the texture – or gumminess – of the items, it exacerbates the damage they do to teeth causing the erosion of enamel and cavities in children’s teeth.

Professor Harvey also raises the concern that it plays on parental worries regarding fussy eaters. Referencing his own grandson, he said all children have periods of fussy eating and children just like adults have preferences for some foods over others. The key is to not fret overly about what children don’t like to eat if they eat alternative food items.

To hear the full interview with Harvey discussing the article and his concerns listen to this podcast:

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