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UK 5 Year Olds Eat and Drink Their Body Weight in Sugar Every Year

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2016-01-06  Views: 120
Core Tip: A new campaign has been launched in the UK encouraging parents to get “Sugar Smart” and take control of their children’s sugar intake. The Change4Life campaign follows revelations that 4-to-10 year olds consume over 5,500 sugar cubes a year, or around 22k
A new campaign has been launched in the UK encouraging parents to get “Sugar Smart” and take control of their children’s sugar intake. The Change4Life campaign follows revelations that 4-to-10 year olds consume over 5,500 sugar cubes a year, or around 22kg – the average weight of a 5-year-old.

A new Sugar Smart app has been launched to help parents see how much sugar there is in everyday food and drink. The free app works by scanning the barcode of products and revealing the amount of total sugar it contains in cubes and grams. Change4Life has created an eye-opening short film to warn parents about the health harms of eating and drinking too much sugar, including becoming overweight and tooth decay.

In 2013, almost a third (31%) of 5-year-olds and almost half (46%) of 8-year-olds had tooth decay, the most common reason for 5-to 9-year-olds being admitted to hospital. The film brings to life the excessive amount of sugar consumed by the average child per year, currently 3 times the new maximum recommended daily amount.

The recommended daily maximum added sugar intake is:
•19g, that’s 5 sugar cubes for children aged 4 to 6
•24g, that’s 6 sugar cubes for children aged 7 to 10
•30g, that’s 7 sugar cubes children aged 11 or older

A fifth of 4-to-5-year-olds and a third of 10-to-11-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.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for Public Health England, said: “Children are having too much sugar, 3 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 5 shouldn’t have more than 19 grams of sugar per day. That’s 5 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.”

Obesity costs the National Health Service (NHS) £5.1 billion (US$7.5 billion) per year and is projected to rise to £9.7 billion (US$14.26 billion) by 2050, with wider costs to society estimated to reach £49.9 billion (US$73.4 billion) per year.

The campaign reveals the sugar content of everyday food and drink; a chocolate bar contains 6 cubes of sugar, a small carton or pouch of juice drink contains over 5 cubes and there are 9 sugar cubes in a can of cola, instantly taking children up to or over their recommended maximum for the day.

The Change4Life Sugar Smart campaign will launch with television, digital and outdoor advertising, and updated web content from today across England. 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.

Search ‘Change4Life’ online to download the new free app and get hints and tips to cut down on sugar.

Change4Life will release further information throughout the campaign, including a Sugar Smart mini series featuring Jamelia and Amanda Ursell with lots of practical tips for parents on how to eat less sugar.

Chris Askew, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: “Diets that are high in sugar are fuelling the rise in obesity, and in turn the dramatic rise in Type 2 diabetes, a serious health condition that can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputations and stroke. This is unlike Type 1 diabetes which cannot be prevented and is not caused by being obese. With the average child consuming three times the recommended daily amount of sugar, the need for action has never been more urgent. The new Sugar Smart app will help parents to understand and take control of their children’s sugar intake.”

“However, the app alone is not enough to achieve the reduction in sugar intake we need to see across the population. We need to see the Government act on recommendations made by Public Health England, including restricting marketing of unhealthy foods to children, reducing and rebalancing the number of price promotions offered on unhealthy foods, implementing a clear and transparent programme for reformulating unhealthy foods and reducing portion sizes. It must also introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks to reduce consumption. People also need to be supported to undertake regular physical activity and supported to choose healthier foods, including through a clear and consistent food labeling system.”

“Until we get better at helping people to live healthy and active lives by taking a number of necessary measures, the rise in obesity will continue to see cases of Type 2 diabetes soar at an alarming rate, costing not only human lives but also crippling the already overstretched NHS.”
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