The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Five-year-olds eat and drink their body weight in sugar every year

New campaign features free app which reveals sugar content of everyday foods

Mark Gould

Monday, 04 January 2016

Public Health England (PHE) wants parents to take control of their children’s sugar intake and has created a new Sugar Smart app which will reveal how much sugar there is in everyday foods. The free app works by scanning the barcode of products and revealing the amount of total sugar it contains in cubes and grams.

PHE says four-to-10 year olds consume over 5,500 sugar cubes a year, or around 22kg - the average weight of a five-year-old. Officials hope the new app, part of a major Sugar Smart campaign, will help combat tooth decay, obesity and type two diabetes and encourage families to choose healthier alternatives.

The campaign will launch with television, digital and outdoor advertising, and updated web content from today across England. An eye-opening short film will warn parents about the health harms of eating and drinking too much sugar, including becoming overweight and tooth decay.

Five million Sugar Smart packs will be given away to primary age children and their families via schools, local authorities and retailers. A nationwide roadshow will take place across 25 locations from 18th January. Five major supermarkets have also pledged to support the campaign through educating and helping customers make healthier food choices when shopping.

In 2013, almost a third (31%) of five-year-olds and almost half (46%) of eight-year-olds had tooth decay, the most common reason for five-to nine-year-olds being admitted to hospital. The film brings to life the excessive amount of sugar consumed by the average child per year, currently three times the new maximum recommended daily amount.

A fifth of four-to-five-year-olds and a third of ten-to-eleven-year-olds are overweight or obese. Overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults making them more prone to a range of serious health problems, such as heart disease, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes. There are now 2.5 million people suffering from Type 2 diabetes, 90% of whom are overweight or obese.

PHE chief nutritionist, Dr Alison Tedstone, said: “Children are having too much sugar, three times the maximum recommended amount. This can lead to painful tooth decay, weight gain and obesity, which can also affect children’s wellbeing as they are more likely to be bullied, have low self-esteem and miss school.

“Children aged five- shouldn’t have more than 19 grams of sugar per day – that’s five cubes, but it’s very easy to have more. That’s why we want parents to be “Sugar Smart”. Our easy to use app will help parents see exactly where the sugar in their children’s diet is coming from, so they can make informed choices about what to cut down on.”

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470