How to help your child eat less sugar

According to Public Health England (PHE), recent reports suggest childhood obesity in England has reached alarming rates, with more than one in five children starting primary school overweight or obese and more than a third overweight or obese by the time they leave.

One of the problems is that children are eating too much sugar. In fact, according to a survey conducted for PHE’s Change4Life campaign, children in England eat almost three cubes worth of sugar before they’ve even gone to school in the morning.

The recommended daily maximum is no more than five cubes of sugar for four-to-six-year-olds and no more than six cubes for seven-to-10-year-olds. And while children in England eat almost three cubes of sugar in their breakfast, by the end of the day they’ve had more than three times the recommended amounts.

“Children have far too much sugar, and a lot of it is before their first lesson of the day,” says Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE.

“It’s crucial for children to have a healthy breakfast, but we know the mornings in a busy household can be fraught.”

Some of the main sources of sugar at breakfast time are sugary cereals, drinks and spreads. But the Change4Life survey suggests many parents aren’t sure what makes up a healthy breakfast for their children: of those with children who eat the equivalent of three or more sugar cubes in their breakfast, more than 84 percent of parents said they thought their child’s breakfast was healthy.

Be smart about food

To help families eat more healthily, the Change4Life campaign has launched a new Be Food Smart app. The app was developed to highlight just how much sugar, saturated fat and salt can be found in everyday food and drink eaten by children.

“We’ve developed our Be Food Smart App to take some of the pressure off parents and help them choose healthier food and drink options for their children,” adds Dr Tedstone.

By scanning the barcode of products using the app, parents can compare brands and choose healthier options. The app also features food detective activities for children as well as mini missions the whole family can enjoy.

“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,” says Sara Stanner, Science Director at the British Nutrition Foundation.

“There are plenty of healthier options available, so we need campaigns like Change4Life to help busy parents make the right choices for their families.”

Download the Be Food Smart app from the iTunes Store or Google Play to get hints and tips to cut down the amount of total sugar, saturated fat and salt in your family’s diet.

Your local Careway pharmacist can also offer you lots of advice about healthy eating. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.