New Public Health England campaign encourages parents to reduce their children’s sugar intake.
A campaign promoting healthier snacks launched by Public Health England is offering help to parents cut down on the amount of sugar consumed by children.
Children are currently estimated to be consuming, on average, at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming four or more.
The overall result is that children consume three times more sugar than is recommended – and increase their risk of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.
Public Health England’s recently launched Change4Life campaign recommends parents should allow children no more than two snacks per day, that do not exceed 100 calories.
The campaign suggests a number of healthier snacks that may be available as an alternative to unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks that currently amounts to around half of children’s sugar – around seven sugar cubes per day.
Figures provided by Public Health England estimated that each year on average, children consumed around 400 biscuits; more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries; around 100 portions of sweets; almost 70 chocolate bars and ice creams; in addition to more than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.
Selected supermarkets, including Tesco and Co-op, are supporting the campaign to help parents choose affordable, healthier snacks that are 100 calories or less – both instore and online.
Money-off vouchers from Change4Life will also be available to parents to help them try healthier snack options, including malt loaf, lower-sugar fromage frais, and drinks with no added sugar.
Unhealthy snacks consumed regularly by children that are high in sugar and calories, include ice-cream (which contains around 175 calories); packets of crisps (190 calories); chocolate bars (200 calories); and pastries (270 calories).
Children should also be encouraged to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables to achieve their recommended “five-a-day” and these are not included in the recommended two daily 100 calorie snacks.
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “The true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they’re concerned.
“To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking – look for 100 calories snacks, two a day max."
Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said: “The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mind-blowing, and it can often be difficult to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren’t.
“This rule of thumb from Change4Life will help parents make healthier choices, which can only be a good thing.”
The Change4Life ‘Food Scanner’ app is also available from the App Store or Google Play and can show parents how many calories, sugar, salt and saturated fat is in their food to help make healthier choices easier.
Current figures show that a third of children are leaving primary school overweight or obese.
Public Health England is working with the food industry to cut 20% of sugar from the products children consume most by 2020, with work to reduce calories due to start in 2018.