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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.

More: Is it OK for kids to have dessert every day?

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.

More: ‘Sugar tax’ could raise money to treat obesity says health minister

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.

The Sugar Smart app is free to download on both iOS and Android devices. For more tips on cutting out sugar visit the Change4Life website.

More: 10 Ways to reduce your sugar intake without even noticing

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