With around a fifth of 4–5-year olds and a third of 10–11-year olds being overweight or obese, measures are urgently needed to tackle this crisis. The Government’s Change4Life Campaign has responded to figures suggesting that 4–10-year olds eat the equivalent of over 5500 sugar cubes a year, or around 22 kg – the average weight of a 5-year-old!
Change4Life launched their ‘Sugar Smart’ app on 4 January 2016 alongside a short video warning parents about the health concerns of children eating too much sugar, including becoming overweight, suffering tooth decay or growing to become obese adults at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The FREE Sugar Smart app can be downloaded onto mobile phones and used to scan the barcodes of food and drink to reveal the total sugar content, in sugar cubes and grams.
The Chief Nutritionist for Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone, has explained that children aged 4–6 should not have more than 19g of sugar a day, equivalent to five sugar cubes, which is why parents need to be educated to be ‘Sugar Smart’! The recommended daily maximum sugar intake for children aged 7–10 is 24g (six sugar cubes), and for children aged 11 and over (including adults!) is 30g (seven sugar cubes).
The app reveals that a chocolate bar contains six cubes of sugar, a small carton of juice over five sugar cubes and a can of cola over nine sugar cubes, showing how children can easily reach or exceed their maximum daily sugar allowance.
Chris Askew, the Chief Executive for Diabetes UK, asks for more measures to be put in place to help tackle the national obesity crisis, calling for a sugar tax on soft drinks, restricting the marketing of unhealthy food to children, reducing price offers on unhealthy food and reducing portion sizes. Click here for more information about the Sugar Smart app.