Children aged four to 10 years old should have no more than the equivalent of five-six cubes of sugar per day, the pubic health body advises, but their research has revealed the average child is consuming 13 cubes every day. One sugar cube equals 4g, meaning children are currently consuming 52.2g of sugar per day.
Unless their diet habits change, the nation’s kids are on track to consume 4,800 cubes of sugar (that’s 19kg or three stone) by the end of the year – more than double the maximum recommendation.
Too much sugar can lead to tooth decay and obesity, and with a third of children currently leaving primary school overweight or obese, PHE has shared some quick tips to help parents reduce the amount of sugar their kids are eating.
Apart from fruit juice, which counts as one of our 5-A-Day, the other main sources of sugar in children’s diets are:
1. Sugary soft drinks (including squashes, juice drinks, energy drinks, cola and other fizzy drinks) – 10%
2. Buns, cakes, pastries and fruit pies – 10%
3. Sugars, including table sugar, preserves and sweet spreads – 9%
4. Biscuits – 9%
5. Breakfast cereals – 8%
6. Chocolate confectionery – 7%
7. Sugar confectionery – 7%
8. Yoghurt, fromage frais and other dairy desserts – 6%
9. Ice cream – 5%
10. Puddings – 4%
But it’s not too late to reduce your child’s sugar intake for the remainder of the year, PHE advises:
:: Swap sugary drinks for plain water, lower fat plain milks, sugar-free or no added sugar drinks. The Change4Life website has easy drink swaps and helpful tips for families.
:: Limit fruit juice and smoothies to a total of 150ml per day and only consume these drinks with meals – they count as a maximum of one portion of our 5 A Day.
:: Cut back on sugary snacks by swapping cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sweets for fruit, plain rice cakes, toast, fruit teacakes, malted loaf or bagels with lower-fat spread.
Children’s Food Trust’s head of research, nutritionist Jo Nicholas, previously told HuffPost UK that in order to avoid upset and tantrums when cutting back on sugar, parents should include kids in conversations about why they are making changes to the family’s diet.
“Talk about why we need to eat less sugar, and the sorts of foods and drinks in which you find it. They’ll probably surprise you with how much they understand already,” she advised.
“Decide together what healthier after-school snacks you could create together – getting children into the kitchen is a fantastic way to get them interested in different tastes.”