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Healthier foods call to parents as children consume bodyweight in sugar in year

Published 04/01/2016

Parents are urged to make healthier food choices after worries some children consume their bodyweight in sugar annually
Parents are urged to make healthier food choices after worries some children consume their bodyweight in sugar annually

Revelations some British children are consuming their bodyweight in sugar each year have prompted a Government campaign urging parents to make healthier food choices.

Public Health England (PHE) today released television, digital and outdoor advertising for the "Change4Life" campaign, accompanied by a free phone app that allows users to scan the barcode of products and learn how much sugar they contain in grams or cubes.

Children aged between four and 10 eat around 22kg of sugar every year, or the average weight of a five-year-old, according to PHE.

In 2013, almost a third of the country's five-year-olds and almost half of its eight-year-olds had tooth decay, but the campaign also highlights other sugar-related health risks such as diabetes and obesity.

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 well-being as they are more likely to be bullied, have low self-esteem and miss school."

Obesity costs the NHS £5.1 billion each year - a figure that is projected to almost double by 2050.

Dr Tedstone added: "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."

The British Retail Consortium, which represents major supermarkets, suggested that industry-wide targets for reducing sugar in products should be introduced.

Spokesman Andrew Opie told the Daily Mail: "We believe we'll make the most progress by having targets for reducing sugar from those categories contributing most to excessive consumption by children, as part of a wider reduction strategy.

"To be effective, they need to apply to all food companies, which is why they need to be mandatory ... It means we see change across the board and those companies that are more progressive in removing sugar are not penalised.

"We recognise that reducing sugar is not the only approach and in some cases we would look at other methods such as appropriate portion sizes alongside targets."

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