With the New Year celebrations now behind us, Public Health England has launched its latest Change4Life campaign to help families cut back on their sugar intake, in order to tackle the worrying rates of childhood obesity.
According to the health watchdog, children have already exceeded the maximum recommended sugar intake for an 18 year old by the time they reach their tenth birthday. And childhood obesity is on the rise.
Not only does this add to the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, but it speaks oceans about the reasons why thousands of UK under 10s are admitted to hospital with rotten teeth each year.
Thanks to the awareness raised by schemes such as Change4Life and other healthy influences, sugar intake has declined slightly in recent years but sadly it’s still far too high.
Children in England are apparently eating an extra 2,800 sugar cubes a year (8 cubes too many per day according to the UK Government) – more than double the recommended guidelines.
Change4Life is encouraging parents to ‘make a swap when you next shop’ and go for healthier choices in their shopping trolleys, reducing children’s sugar intake from some products (such as yoghurts, drinks and breakfast cereals) by half. This can be done by choosing healthier versions of the foods and drinks they enjoy, such as no added sugar juice drinks and lower sugar cereals, which often don’t taste that much different.
In addition, encouraging children to try a wider and more diverse range of healthy food, such as fruit and vegetables that they haven’t tried before, can only help a natural inclination to a more healthy diet to develop.
Apparently, severe obesity in 10 to 11 year olds is the highest it’s ever been, with a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese. And overweight or obese children are more likely to become overweight or obese adults, again, increasing the risk of chronic and life threatening disease.
Families have been encouraged to look for the Change4Life ‘Good Choice’ badge on popular brands in shops, download the free Food Scanner app or search Change4Life to help them find lower sugar options.
The Change4Life website also offers great tips and ideas on how to make some simple swaps, with top sugar swaps, easy ways to make a swap when you next shop and a handy sugar calculator which lets you see how much sugar your kids could be having in a day, as well as a guide on how much is considered to be too much.
The charity Action on Sugar has even gone one step further, by suggesting that more hard hitting tactics, such as putting a tax on sweets and banning the advertisement of products which are high in sugar should be the way forward.
Meanwhile, an article in the British Medical Journal claimed that England’s chief medical officer (CMO) Dame Sally Davies said in a report that the UK should widen the current tax on sugary drinks to cover a range of foods that are high in sugar, salt, and trans fats as well as extending the soft drinks industry levy, to sweetened milk based drinks and impose an outright ban on added salt and sugar in baby foods
All in all the future looks bright for improving the health of our next generations.