A new Change4Life campaign has been launched by Public Health England encourages parents to cut down the amount of sugar their children consume by making one or more simple swaps.
Eating and drinking too much sugar means extra calories, which causes fat to build up inside the body. This can lead to heart disease, some cancers or type 2 diabetes later in life.
Children who are overweight or obese when they are young are far more likely to become overweight or obese adults. Recently published data highlights that approximately 1 in 5 children aged 4 to 5 years old and 1 in 3 children aged 10 to 11 years old is overweight or obese.
Sugar can also have a devastating impact upon dental health, an integral part of overall health. Tooth decay was the most common reason for hospital admissions for children aged 5 to 9 in 2012 to 2013. Twenty-eight percent of 5 year olds in England have tooth decay and of these, 24% have 5 or more teeth affected. When children are not healthy this affects their ability to learn, thrive and develop.
While guidelines state that no more that 10% of a person’s daily energy or calorie intake should be made up of sugar, at present, children aged 4 to 10 years are consuming up to 50% more than this. Children aged 4 to 10 get:
- 17% of their daily sugar from soft drinks
- 17% from biscuits, buns, cakes, pastries and fruit pies
- 14% from confectionery
- 13% from fruit juice
- 8% from breakfast cereals
Change4Life recommends 4 simple sugar swaps for mums to choose from, tackling different ‘sugar occasions’ in the day:
- The breakfast swap: sugary cereal for plain cereal, like a wholewheat biscuit cereal
- The drink swap: from sugary drinks to sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks
- The after school swap: for example from muffin to fruited teacake
- The pudding swap: for example from ice cream to low-fat lower-sugar yoghurt
Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, comments:
Reducing sugar intake is important for the health of our children both now and in the future. We are all eating too much sugar and the impact this has on our health is evident.
Throughout the campaign, families will be able to register for their FREE sugar swaps pack which they will receive through the post. The packs are filled with hints, tips and recipe suggestions designed to help parents cut down the sugary foods and drinks consumed by their children, plus money-off vouchers, swap cards and stickers. To sign up, families just need to search Change4Life and register.