Tue, Jan-03-17, 02:18
British children have half their daily recommended sugar before school
From The Telegraph
3 January, 2017
Children have half their daily recommended sugar before school
Children are consuming half their recommended sugar allowance before they even get to school in the morning, health officials have warned.
The average child is eating the equivalent of three cubes of sugar every morning for breakfast, Public Health England (PHE) said.
Officials said sugary cereals, fruit juice and and preserves meant many children were starting the day loaded with excess calories - fuelling record rates of obesity and diabetes.
They urged families not to start the day with such sugary fare.
Last week the head of the NHS called on parents to show some “tough love” and stand firm against demand for sugary and junk foods.
Simon Stevens made the plea to families as the health service announced plans to send 50,000 overweight Britons on an NHS diet.
The disclosures follow research which found that 91 per cent of mothers and 80 per cent of fathers of obese children are blind to the fact their offspring have a weight problem.
PHE warned on Monday that the average child is now consuming three times their recommended allowance of sugar by the end of the day - with vast amounts of it eaten even before they have left the house.
The average breakfast sugar intake of almost three cubes a day compares with a recommended daily maximum is five cubes of sugar for four to six-year-olds and six cubes for seven to 10-year-olds.
Cereals, fruit juices, chocolate spreads, jam and honey were among the chief culprits fuelling early morning sugar intake, PHE said.
The average breakfast intake mounts to more than 1,000 sugar cubes a year, they said.
The figures were published amid record levels of obesity among children, and warnings that the trend has reached “a state of emergency”.
Official data shows that more than one in five children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to more than a third by the time they start secondary school.
Nutrition experts are concerned that many parents do not realise how unhealthy the average breakfast is.
Among parents of children who were consuming half a day’s recommended sugar intake before school, 84 per cent considered their child’s breakfast as healthy, new research for the body’s Change4Life campaign found.
Last year, official health advice was changed, to state that only one fruit juice or smoothie can count towards the recommended 'five a day' fruit and vegetables.
It was part of efforts to persuade the public to reduce sugar consumption, with fruit juice one of the major sources of sugar intake among young children.
The drinks should be limited to a single 150ml glass a day and count as only one portion, revised health guidelines say.
Health experts have urged parents to encourage children to instead have whole pieces of fruit and more vegetables.
However, recent data suggests that the war on sugar may have backfired - resulting in a slump in overall consumption of fruit and vegetables.
In the last year, overall consumption of fruit and vegetables among children has dropped sharply, from 3.5 to 3.2 portions.
In November research found six in ten breakfast cereals have half the recommended daily sugar intake for a three year old.
Kellogg's Frosties, Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and Coco Pops had the highest sugar levels, with at least 35g of sugar in each 100g - around nine teaspoons.
PHE has launched a free new app which helps highlight how much sugar, saturated fat and salt can be found in everyday food and drink that children consume.
It works by scanning the barcode of a product to help parents make more informed choices as they shop.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: "Children have far too much sugar, and a lot of it is before their first lesson of the day.
"It's crucial for children to have a healthy breakfast, but we know the mornings in a busy household can be fraught.
"That’s why we’ve developed our Be Food Smart App, taking some of the pressure off parents and helping them to choose healthier food and drink options for their children.”
Health officials said recommended breakfast foods included plain cereals such as porridge, wholewheat biscuits or shredded wholewheat, fruits and berries, low-fat lower sugar yoghurt, and wholegrain toast with low-fat spread.
PHE said children should be given water or semi-skimmed milk.
If parents wanted to provide fruit juice, it should be limited to 150ml and be consumed with food to protect the teeth, officials said.
Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS last week urged parents to make changes to their daily routines, to improve the long-term health of their children.
He has said there is “absolutely no reason” to give sugary drinks to children, urging parents to stick to water or milk instead of juice or soft drinks.
Tooth decay has become the most common reason that five-to-nine year olds are admitted to hospital. And the average five-year-old consumes the equivalent of their body weight in sugar in the course of a year.
Sara Stanner, science director at the British Nutrition Foundation, added: "We know a healthy breakfast can make an important contribution to children's vitamin and mineral intakes and its consumption has been linked to many positive health outcomes.
"There are plenty of healthier options available so we need campaigns like Change4Life to help busy parents make the right choices for their families."