As a country, it is a fact that our children are consuming far more sugar than is recommended, often without knowing, as many sugars are hidden in soft drinks and cereals where we wouldn’t always expect.
This is why the UK government have launched a public health campaign aimed at parents to raise awareness of excessive sugar consumption in children, encouraging us to reassess our little one’s diets and make simple swaps to help reduce their day to day sugar intake.
What is the link between childhood obesity and sugar intake?
Sweets, chocolates and other sugar-laden foods and drinks provide many ‘empty calories’ with little or no nutritional value and a high calorific content. This can result in weight gain and an increased body mass index [BMI] amongst our children and teens which can be detrimental to their health putting them at a significantly higher-risk for many obesity related illnesses.
Whilst it’s true to say that measures are beginning to be taken to tackle the issue of sugar intake particularly amongst children, we think that more needs to be done. For instance, last year marked the introduction of the UK Sugar tax on soft drinks and although this was a definitely a step in the right direction, this doesn’t yet include chocolate bars and other sugary sweet treats which can send children’s sugar intake soaring.
To put this into perspective, a typical 330ml can of ‘red coke’ contains around 8 sugar cubes which is more than any child regardless of their age should be consuming in a day just from one drink – so it’s clear to see just how easy it is for your child to consume more than they should when you aren’t closely monitoring their sugar intake.
The Change4Life campaign, tells us that these are the facts surrounding children’s sugar intake in this country:
· The average child consumes about 50% more sugar in a day than is recommended
· On average, a 15-year old consumes about 216 calories above what is required for a healthy body mass index [BMI] including 40g of excess sugar which is 10 cubes of sugar a day – that’s 3,650 extra sugar cubes a day!
Why is it so important to be talking about children’s sugar intake?
We should educate ourselves about the risks of our children consuming too much sugar in their diet. This is because childhood obesity is an issue which can really affect their overall long-term health, so we should aim to encourage practical ways for your child to maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI) so more and more parents can take positive action.
As parents, your child’s diet is your responsibility…
The NHS states that more than 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they begin school and 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.
Many overweight and obese children are statistically likely to become obese adults which can put you at a significantly higher risk for the following illnesses in adulthood:
We can do this by making simple swaps to their diet and closely reading food labels as you’d be surprised at the high sugars in foods and drinks that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Here are some practical ways that you can start to tackle your child’s sugar intake:
We should also be promoting a more active lifestyle which means less time spent in front of tablets, smartphones and computer screens – head to the Change4Life website for smart swaps and fun ideas on how to keep your children healthy.
If you have concerns about your child being overweight, we would always recommend that you seek the medical advice of your GP in the first instance for advice and support.
It is also one of the key determinants to successful weight loss, particularly following weight loss surgery which is why we put so much emphasis on dietetic support for all of our bariatric customers.
Our weight loss support team made up of our specialist nurses and dietitians are a fantastic source of support, advice and a listening ear. They are there to help our customers rebuild a positive and healthy relationship with food, wherever they are in their journey.