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A comparison of preprepared commercial infant feeding meals with home-cooked recipes
  1. Sharon A Carstairs1,
  2. Leone CA Craig2,
  3. Debbi Marais3,
  4. Ourania E Bora4,
  5. Kirsty Kiezebrink5
  1. 1Health Services Research Unit, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  2. 2The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  3. 3Warwick Medical School, The University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  4. 4Division of Applied Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  5. 5Division of Applied Health Sciences Postgraduate Education Group, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  1. Correspondence to Sharon A Carstairs, Health Services Research Unit, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK; sharon.carstairs{at}


Objectives To compare the cost, nutritional and food variety contents of commercial meals and published infant and young child feeding (IYCF) home-cooked recipes, and to compare nutritional contents to age-specific recommendations.

Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting Full range of preprepared main meals available within the UK market. Main-meal recipes identified from a survey of Amazon's top 20 best-sellers and IYCF cookbooks available from local libraries.

Samples 278 commercial IYCF savoury meals from UK market and 408 home-cooked recipes from best-selling IYCF published cookbooks.

Main outcome measures Cost and nutritional content per 100 g and food variety per meal for both commercial meals and home-cooked recipes.

Results Commercial products provided more ‘vegetable’ variety per meal (median=3.0; r=−0.33) than home-cooked recipes (2.0). Home-cooked recipes provided 26% more energy and 44% more protein and total fat than commercial products (r=−0.40, −0.31, −0.40, respectively) while costing less (£0.33/100 g and £0.68/100 g, respectively). The majority of commercial products (65%) met energy density recommendations but 50% of home-cooked recipes exceeded the maximum range.

Conclusions The majority of commercial meals provided an energy-dense meal with greater vegetable variety per meal to their home-cooked counterparts. Home-cooked recipes provided a cheaper meal option, however the majority exceeded recommendations for energy and fats.

  • Infant Feeding
  • Commercial Foods
  • Home-cooked
  • Food Variety
  • Child Feeding

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  • Contributors Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; data collection, analysis and interpretation of data for the work were conducted by SAC under the supervision of KK, DM and LCAC. Data collection was additionally conducted by OEB. Drafting of the publication was done by SAC with the revision for important intellectual content and final approval of the version to be published given by KK, DM, LCAC and OEB. There is agreement between the authors that SAC is accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Seafish Authority and Interface Food and Drink Scotland as part of a PhD scholarship for SAC. This work was supported by The Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) division (LCAC grant).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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