Children ‘exceed recommended sugar limit by age 10’

The average 10-year-old has consumed as much sugar in their lifetime as the recommended limit for an 18-year-old, according to Public Health England (PHE).

Children are consuming the equivalent of eight excess sugar cubes a day, or 2,800 a year, says PHE. National guidelines recommend no more than five or six sugar cubes (20g-24g) a day for children aged four to 10.

In a bid to cut children’s sugar consumption, PHE has launched a Change4Life campaign that encourages parents to ‘make a swap’ when buying something sweet for their kids.

It encourages parents to “make a swap when you next shop”, highlighting the amount of sugar in everyday foods and drinks, and shows how simple swaps can halve the amount of sugar children are getting from these products.

Parents can try swapping:

  • A higher-sugar yoghurt (e.g. split-pot) for a lower sugar one, to halve sugar intake from six cubes of sugar to three cubes
  • 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

Making these changes 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, according to the Change4Life campaign website.

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.”

Parents are also encouraged to download the Food Scanner app, available on Android and ios, which tells users how much sugar, salt and fat are in foods, and tips to make their meals better.

Nestlé, Soreen (malt loaf) and Yoplait are some of the companies that will display a ‘Good Choice’ thumbs up badge on some of their products to help families find lower sugar options. Own-label products in Asda, Aldi, Londis and Budgens stores will also carry the badge.

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