10 year olds in the UK have consumed 18 years’ worth of Sugar
The latest Change4Life campaign is encouraging parents to “Make a swap when you next shop” to halve their children’s sugar intake from some everyday food and drinks.
Children are currently consuming around 2,800 extra sugar cubes per year.
The latest data shows that Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian children aged 10 and 11 years old were the most likely to be overweight or obese (at 44.3%, 40.6%, 36.7%, respectively). This figure comes as a new strand of the Change4Life campaign launches which aims to support South Asian families to cut back on sugar and to help tackle growing rates of childhood obesity.
Children have already exceeded the maximum recommended sugar intake for an 18-year old by the time they reach their tenth birthday, according to Public Health England (PHE).
To help parents manage this, Change4Life is encouraging them to “Make a swap when you next shop”. Making simple everyday swaps can reduce children’s sugar intake from some products (yoghurts, drinks and breakfast cereals) by half – while giving them healthier versions of the foods and drinks they enjoy. Parents can try swapping:
- a sugary juice drink for a no-added sugar juice drink, to cut back from 2 cubes to half a cube;
- a higher-sugar breakfast cereal (e.g. a frosted or chocolate cereal) for a lower sugar cereal, to cut back from 3 cubes to half a cube per bowl;
- a higher-sugar yoghurt (e.g. split-pot) for a lower sugar one, to halve their sugar intake from 6 cubes of sugar to 3.
While some foods and drinks remain high in sugar, many companies have reformulated products such as yoghurts, breakfast cereals and juice drinks, meaning these swaps are a good place for families to start.
Making these swaps every day could remove around 2,500 sugar cubes per year from a child’s diet, but swapping chocolate, puddings, sweets, cakes and pastries for healthier options such as malt loaf, sugar-free jellies, lower-sugar custards and rice puddings would reduce their intake even more.
Orla Hugueniot, Campaigns Nutritionist at PHE, said “Children are consuming too much sugar, but parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years.
Severe obesity in ten-to-eleven year olds has now reached an all-time high. Overweight or obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, increasing their risk of heart disease and some cancers, while more people than ever are developing Type 2 diabetes. Overweight or obese children are more likely to be bullied and have low self-esteem. Excess sugar can also lead to painful tooth decay.”
Nutritionist Azmina Govindji, said “It’s important we as a community understand the sugar content in popular cultural foods and make changes to address the problem of childhood obesity. With busy lives and families to support, Change4Life is offering a straightforward solution – by making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.
“Grandparents can play a significant role in their grandchildren’s diet, and we recognise that change has to come from the whole family and not just parents. That’s why the Change4Life campaign will be taking this message to the heart of the community, including places of worship, to encourage everyone to support healthier choices.”
Chef and author Anjula Devi who is passionate about creating balanced and nutritious Indian meals and is supporting the campaign said: “Most South Asian households will have a blend of western and cultural foods in their homes which can lead to a high consumption of sugary products. When I cook, I try to reduce the amount of sugar and salt content in my cooking and make swaps using low fat/sugar products where I can so we can enjoy the best of both worlds.”
Families are encouraged to look for the Change4Life ‘Good Choice’ badge in shops, download the free Food Scanner app or search Change4Life to help them find lower sugar options.
Watch the Change4Life TV campaign here