Limit children to two sugary snacks a day, parents told | Sunday Observer

Limit children to two sugary snacks a day, parents told

Jan 2: Public Health England urging parents to take tougher line on sweets, cakes and fizzy drinks between meals to stem obesity crisis…

Children’s snacking habits are setting them up for obesity and poor health, Public Health England has warned, calling on parents to take a tougher line on sweets and cakes and fizzy drinks between meals.

Children in England are eating on average at least three unhealthy high-calorie sugary snacks and drinks every day, says PHE, and about a third of children eat four or more.

It is urging parents to draw the line at two and make sure they are not more than 100 calories each.

The diet of the average child can contain three times more sugar than recommended, says PHE.

Half the equivalent of seven sugar cubes a day they consume comes from unhealthy snacks and drinks.

Each year that includes almost 400 biscuits, more than 120 cakes, 100 sweets, 70 chocolate bars and 70 ice creams, washed down with more than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “The true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they’re concerned.

“To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking – look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max.”

The campaign will include a new TV advert from Aardman Animations as well as leaflets in schools.

Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said: “The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mindblowing, and it can often be difficult to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren’t.

A third of children are leaving primary school obese or overweight. Recent figures from the National Child Measurement Program in schools show the number of obese children in reception year has risen for the second consecutive year (to 9.6%) and has shown no improvement in year 6 (20%). A quarter of children (24.7%) suffer from tooth decay by the time they turn five. Tooth extraction is the most common cause of hospital admissions in children aged 5 to 9 years.