Families are being encouraged to help their children cut down on the amount of sugar they consume by swapping for healthier versions of everyday items when food shopping.
Many companies have reformulated products such as yoghurts, breakfast cereals and juice drinks, meaning these swaps are a good place for families to start.
Making these swaps every day could remove around 2,500 sugar cubes per year from a child’s diet, but swapping chocolate, puddings, sweets, cakes and pastries for healthier options such as malt loaf, sugar-free jellies, lower-sugar custards and rice puddings would reduce your child’s sugar intake even further.
New figures from Public Health England reveal children have already exceeded the maximum recommended sugar intake for an 18 year old by the time they reach their tenth birthday.
The revelation comes as the new Change4Life campaign launches, supporting families to cut back on sugar and to help tackle growing rates of childhood obesity.
As part of the campaign families are being encouraged to try swapping:
- a higher-sugar yoghurt (e.g. split-pot) for a lower sugar one, to halve their child’s sugar intake from 6 cubes of sugar to 3;
- a sugary juice drink for a no-added sugar juice drink, to cut back from 2 cubes to half a cube;
- a higher-sugar breakfast cereal (e.g. a frosted or chocolate cereal) for a lower sugar cereal, to cut back from 3 cubes to half a cube per bowl.
Recent data shows severe obesity in ten-to-eleven year olds has now reached an all-time high. Overweight or obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, increasing their risk of heart disease and some cancers, while more young people than ever are developing Type 2 diabetes. Excess sugar can also lead to painful tooth decay, bullying and low self-esteem in childhood.
Cllr Sean Donnelly, Knowsley Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said:
“Reducing the amount of sugar children consume can often be a challenge for parents. By asking them to ‘Make a swap when you next shop’, the campaign hopefully makes it easier for families to find healthier options of the foods their children love.”
Helping families make the swap
Families are encouraged to look for the Change4Life ‘Good Choice’ badge in shops, download the free Food Scanner app or visit Change4Life to help find lower sugar options.
Popular brands – including Nestlé Shredded Wheat, Nestlé Low Sugar Oat Cheerios, Petits Filous and Soreen (malt loaf) – will display the ‘Good Choice’ badge online, in-store and throughout their advertising, to help parents find healthier options.
Customers can also find healthier options in supporting supermarkets including Asda and Aldi, as well as in Londis and Budgens convenience stores.
How is the food industry helping?
With a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, tackling obesity requires wider action and is not just limited to individual efforts from parents. PHE is working with the food industry to remove 20% of sugar from the products contributing the most to children’s sugar intakes by 2020.