I was shocked when I saw the new guidelines on sugar last Summer. We had just stopped for a snack at a motorway service station. I glanced at the headlines then checked the “healthy juice” my 8-year old was gulping down. “No more sugar until tomorrow” I said, “you are already over your limit for today!”. It was 9am and he was not amused.
As a parent, I worry more about my kids’ health than my own health. But the bottom line is that we’re all eating too much sugar with disastrous effects such as: obesity, Type-2 diabetes, dental health, heart disease and even cancer.
Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush did not make easy viewing as hospital footage showed children having full set of teeth removed or adults having a foot or leg amputated. These are not scaremongering techniques but an honest look at the effects of our sugar consumption.
Of course I try to be careful and watch what we eat, but sugar sneaks in everywhere and can be hard to avoid.
A new campaign by Change4Life is encouraging parents to get “Sugar Smart” and take control of their children’s sugar intake. It follows revelations that four-to-ten year olds consume over 5,500 sugar cubes a year, or around 22kg – which is the average weight of a five-year-old.
Change4Life’s stats are scary:
- In 2013, almost a third (31%) of five-year-olds and almost half (46%) of eight-year-olds had tooth decay, the most common reason for five-to nine-year-olds being admitted to hospital.
- A fifth of four-to-five-year-olds and a third of ten-to-eleven-year-olds are overweight or obese. Overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults making them more prone to a range of serious health problems, such as heart disease, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes. There are now 2.5 million people suffering from Type 2 diabetes, 90% of whom are overweight or obese.
The new Sugar Smart app is here to help parents see how much sugar there is in everyday food and drink. The free app works by scanning the barcode of products and revealing the amount of total sugar it contains in cubes and grams.
The campaign reveals the sugar content of everyday food and drink; a chocolate bar contains six cubes of sugar, a small carton or pouch of juice drink contains over five cubes and there are nine sugar cubes in a can of cola, instantly taking children up to or over their recommended maximum for the day.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for Public Health England, said:
“Children are having too much sugar, three times the maximum recommended amount. 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.
“Children aged five- shouldn’t have more than 19 grams of sugar per day – that’s five cubes, but it’s very easy to have more. That’s why we want parents to be “Sugar Smart”. Our easy to use app will help parents see exactly where the sugar in their children’s diet is coming from, so they can make informed choices about what to cut down on.”
The “Sugar Smart” app is great for both children and adults. It is easy to use and includes the barcode of over 75,000 everyday food or drink products. So far I have found it very useful to make some quick comparisons while shopping.