Barnsley parents urged: “Make a swap when you next shop” to reduce children’s sugar intake

Barnsley Council is supporting the latest Public Health England Change4Life campaign which asks parents to “Make a swap when you next shop” to halve their children’s sugar intake from some everyday food and drinks.

Nationwide, children are currently consuming around 2,800 extra sugar cubes per year. They have already exceeded the maximum recommended sugar intake for an 18 year old by the time they reach their tenth birthday, according to Public Health England (PHE). This is based on their total sugar consumption from the age of two.

This figure comes as a new Change4Life campaign launches, supporting families to cut back on sugar and to help tackle growing rates of childhood obesity.

While children’s sugar intakes have declined slightly in recent years, they are still consuming around eight excess sugar cubes each day, equivalent to around 2,800 excess sugar cubes per year.

Making simple everyday swaps can reduce children’s sugar intake from some products (yoghurts, drinks and breakfast cereals) by half – while giving them healthier versions of the foods and drinks they enjoy.

Parents can try swapping:

  • a higher-sugar yoghurt (e.g. split-pot) for a lower sugar one, to halve their sugar intake from six cubes of sugar to three;
  • a sugary juice drink for a no-added sugar juice drink, to cut back from two cubes to half a cube;
  • a higher-sugar breakfast cereal (e.g. a frosted or chocolate cereal) for a lower sugar cereal,to cut back from three cubes to half a cube per bowl.

While some foods and drinks remain high in sugar, many companies have reformulated products such as yoghurts, breakfast cereals and juice drinks, meaning these swaps are a good place for families to start. Making these swaps every day could remove around 2,500 sugar cubes per year from a child’s diet, but swapping chocolate, puddings, sweets, cakes and pastries for healthier options such as malt loaf, sugar-free jellies, lower-sugar custards and rice puddings would reduce their intake even more.

Severe obesity in 10 to 11 year olds has now reached an all-time high. Overweight or obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, increasing their risk of heart disease and some cancers, while more young people than ever are developing Type 2 diabetes. Excess sugar can also lead to painful tooth decay, bullying and low self-esteem in childhood.

Cllr Jim Andrews, Barnsley Council’s Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said:  The latest figures for Barnsley show that some 31.2 percent of our 10 to 11 year olds are overweight which is significantly better than the national average of 34.2 percent.

However, 2.6 per cent of our local children aged between five and nine years old have had to have teeth removed in the hospital due to tooth decay. The national figure is 0.7 per cent.

I encourage all Barnsley parents and carers to take a look at some of the easy ways they can help their children consume less sugar and teach them how to make healthier choices that stay with them for life.”

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.

“To make this easier for busy families, Change4Life is offering a straightforward solution –by making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.”

Families are encouraged to look for the Change4Life ‘Good Choice’ badge in shops, download the free Food Scanner app or search Change4Life to help them find lower sugar options.

Popular brands – including Nestlé Shredded Wheat, Nestlé Low Sugar Oat Cheerios, Petits Filous and Soreen (malt loaf) – will display the ‘Good Choice’ badge online, in-store and throughout their advertising, to help parents find healthier options.

Customers can also find healthier options in supporting supermarkets including Asda and Aldi, as well as in Londis and Budgens convenience stores.

With a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, tackling obesity requires wider action and is not just limited to individual efforts from parents. PHE is working with the food industry to remove 20 per cent of sugar from the products contributing the most to children’s sugar intakes by 2020.

More information and advice is available at: nhs.uk/change4life/food-facts/sugar/sugar-swaps-for-kids

This news is linked to Town Spirit. We want to work better together. If everyone in Barnsley does just one thing, together we can make our borough a more welcoming place where people want to live, work and visit.

#LiveIt helps us to support the most vulnerable people, making sure they can access support at the earliest possible stage. Own it by keeping your own and your family's health at its best, and asking for support when you need it.

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