Children are eating too much sugar, says Public Health England

Jack Woodfield
Thu, 03 Jan 2019
Children are eating too much sugar, says Public Health England
Children in the UK are eating 18 years' worth of sugar by the time they are 10, according to a new Public Health England (PHE) report.

PHE says the report, which is based on total sugar consumption from the age of two, means children are consuming around eight excess sugar cubes a day or 2,800 excess cubes per year.

Tackling childhood obesity is a challenge for government considering the all-time high rates of type 2 diabetes in the UK.

PHE has suggested introducing a so-called pudding tax if companies fail to reduce the amount of sugar in their products. Puddings is one of 10 food categories identified as part of PHE's sugar reduction programme designed to reduce sugar in popular foods by a fifth by 2020.

Earlier this year the government launched a sugar tax in a bid to drive down sugar content in fizzy drinks, and PHE has said it would be open to extending this tax.

Half of the sugar in chlldren's diets comes from food including breakfast cereals, sugary drinks, cakes and biscuits, but making healthy dietary changes can make a significant impact on children’s health.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: "Children are consuming too much sugar, but parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years."

Reducing sugar intake can help prevent obesity and reduce a child's risk of type 2 diabetes in adulthood. This can be done by making food replacements for less sugary foods and increasing exercise.

PHE recommends a daily maximum sugar intake for children aged 4-6 of five sugar cubes (19g). For children aged 7-10 this increases to six cubes (24g), and for children aged 11 or over it is seven cubes (30g). To put this into context, a 330ml can of Coca Cola contains 35g of sugar.

So far, PHE has reported on an average 2% reduction following the first year of their ambition to cut sugar by a fifth.

Dr Tedstone told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that PHE would publish more data this year on whether this target is being met.
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