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Kids consume more than a year’s sugar in six months

More than double recommendation consumed

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 15 June 2018

Children in England have already consumed more than a year’s worth of sugar, according to figures from Public Health England (PHE).

Children aged four to 10 years should have no more than the equivalent of five to six cubes of sugar each day, but are consuming on average 13 cubes.

The new data suggest they are on track to consume around 4,800 cubes of sugar by the end of the year, more than double the maximum recommendation.

Sugary soft drinks remain one of the main contributors of free sugars to children’s diets, more than ice cream and puddings combined.

Apart from fruit juice, which counts as one of our five a day, the other main sources of sugar in children’s diets include fizzy sugary soft drinks (10%), cakes and pastries (10%), table sugar and preserves (9%), biscuits (9%), breakfast cereals (8%), chocolate confectionery (7%), sugar confectionery (7%), yoghurt (6%), ice cream (5%), and puddings (4%).

Fruit juice with no added sugar can be a healthier alternative to soft drinks. However, it contributes a significant amount of sugar to children’s diets when consumed in large amounts. Therefore, fruit juice and smoothies should be limited to a combined total of 150ml per day.

PHE’s Change4Life campaign is urging parents to make simple changes:

  • swap sugary drinks for plain water, lower fat plain milks, sugar-free or no added sugar drinks.
  • the Change4Life website has easy drink swaps and helpful tips for families.
  • limit fruit juice and smoothies to a total of 150ml per day and only consume these drinks with meals – they count as a maximum of one portion of our five a day.
  • cut back on sugary snacks by swapping cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sweets for fruit, plain rice cakes, toast, fruit teacakes, malted loaf or bagels with lower fat spread.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE said: “We’re barely halfway through the year and already children have consumed far more sugar than is healthy – it’s no surprise this is contributing to an obesity crisis.

“Snacks and drinks are adding unnecessary sugar to children’s diets without us even noticing. Swapping to lower or no added sugar alternatives is something all parents can work towards.”

PHE is working with the food industry to cut 20% of sugar from the foods children consume most by 2020. Sugar reduction guidelines for juice and milk-based drinks outside the scope of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy are to be achieved by mid 2021.

Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, said: "These startling figures highlight the need for further robust action from government in their upcoming second edition of the Childhood Obesity Plan.

"A package of measures including restrictions on the advertising of junk food to children, action on price promotions on unhealthy products and clearer food labelling will help parents to make healthy choices and ensure their children have the healthiest possible start in life”.

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