Children eat three times as much sugar as they should...
....as parents we need to make some changes now.
Children eat three times as much sugar as they should was the headline in the Daily Telegraph recently and one of the items of news on the BBC. Why did I roll my eyes and think it must be a slow news day as we finished off the Strawberry Cremes (which are always the only ones left in the Quality Street tub in our house).
We know that our children eat too much sugar (me especially so being married to a Dentist) but we really do need to make some proper changes if we are going to improve our children’s diets.
Public Health England (PHE) published figures that estimate that young children are eating on average the equivalent of about eight cubes of sugar a day (imagine doing that?). One in five children is obese by the time they leave primary school and part of the blame is being placed on sugar. The Chief Nutritionist at PHE suggests that parents should take action now and that sugar should only make up 5% of a child's daily calorie intake. However, children aged between 4-10 years are getting 13.5% (the equivalent of 200 calories) of their energy this way on a daily basis. If a child stuck to the national guidelines then they will have eaten 138 kg of sugar by the time they are 18 but at current rates (potentially 13 cubes of sugar a day) they will have reached that total before they reach age 10.
The new Change4Life campaign has just started which encourages parents to help their children make simple swaps to reduce their daily sugar intake. PHE has also called on food companies to cut the amount of sugar in key products but the targets of 5% were missed in the first year with only an average reduction of 2%. Fizzy drinks which are already subject to a sugar tax did however help reduce the level of sugar by 11%.
The Chief Medical Officer (Professor Dame Sally Davies) has called for the sugar tax to be extended to other foods including chocolate and crisps as well as fizzy drinks and Ministers have pledged to half child obesity rates by 2030 (11 years time!!) through the 9pm junk food advertising watershed and threatening companies with mandatory fines if they do not comply.
I believe that as parents who buy and put the food on the table, who choose what goes into their packed lunches and who buy the after school snacks it is our responsibility to ensure our children maintain a healthy and low sugar diet. If like me you are feeling slightly guilty about the amount of sugar in your children's diet then make that New Years Resolution to make a Change4Life - your children might even thank you for it one day.