Kids are eating their weight in sugar and a new app could help
A new year, a new warning about our children’s diets. According to Public Health England, kids in the U.K. eat more than their own body weight in sugar a year.
While the recommended daily maximum added sugar intake (i.e. sugar not naturally present in food, such as fruit) is 19 grams, or five sugar cubes, for 4 to 6-year-olds; 24 grams, or six sugar cubes, for 7 to 10-year-olds; and 30 grams, or seven sugar cubes, for 11 and above.
Despite these guidelines, 4 to 10-year-olds eat more than 5,500 sugar cubes a year, which is about 22 kilograms and the weight of an average 5-year-old.
To try to combat the younger generation’s ever-increasing love for the sweet stuff, Public Health England has launched a campaign, Change4Life, to help parents monitor their children’s diets.
This is in conjunction with a new app, Sugar Smart, which lets users discover the sugar content of a particular product by scanning its barcode.
"Children are having too much sugar — three times the maximum recommended amount," said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for Public Health England, in a press release. "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."
As a mum of two — including one seriously committed chocoholic — I know as well as anyone how difficult it is to keep track of kids’ sugar intake. A chocolate bar contains six cubes of sugar on average, but 5-year-old children shouldn’t have more than six cubes a day. Another issue is that lots of apparently “healthy” products on the market, such as fruit smoothies, are packed with sugar.