Children aged between four and ten in the UK have already exceeded their maximum recommended intake of sugar for the year, latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) have today (15 June) revealed.

At just six months in, they are already on track to consume ‘the equivalent of 4,800 cubes of sugar by the end of the year’ – not surprising when youngsters consume on average 13 cubes of sugar a day, which is more than double the maximum recommendation of 5-6 cubes.

With a third of English children leaving primary school overweight or obese and “around a quarter of five-year-olds suffering from painful tooth decay,” they are putting their health at serious risk later on in life.

As well as ‘increased risk’ of preventable health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, PHE claims that “children above a healthy weight are more likely to remain so as adults.”

But it’s not just foods causing the problem. As part of PHE’s new ‘Change4Life’ campaign, it found that sugary soft drinks “remain one of the main contributors of free sugars to children’s diets – more than ice cream and puddings combined.”
Other main culprits include:

Sugary soft drinks – 10%
Buns, cakes, pastries and fruit pies – 10%
Sugars, including table sugar, preserves and sweet spreads – 9%
Biscuits – 9%
Breakfast cereals – 8%
Chocolate confectionery – 7%
Sugar confectionery – 7%
Yoghurt, fromage frais and other dairy desserts – 6%
Ice cream – 5%
Puddings – 4%

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Urging parents to make ‘simple’ changes to their childrens’ diets, PHE has listed a number of recommendations and healthy food swaps online via the Change4Life website,

These include:
Swapping sugary drinks for plain water, lower fat plain milks, sugar-free or no added sugar drinks
Limit fruit juice and smoothies to a total of 150ml per day and only consume these drinks with meals
Cut back on sugary snacks by swapping cakes, biscuits, chocolate etc. for fruit, plain rice cakes, toast, malted loaf…

It has also launched a Change4Life Food Scanner app, which shows the sugar, fat, salt and calories in popular foods and drinks.

PHE chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone, commented: “We’re barely halfway through the year and children have already consumed far more sugar than is healthy – it’s no surprise this is contributing to an obesity crisis.

“Snacks and drinks are adding unnecessary sugar to children’s diets without us even noticing. Swapping to lower or no added sugar alternatives is something all parents can work towards.”