A Change4Life Sugar Swaps promotion is underway with help and information in Kent for families with young children to make healthier food choices.
According to PHE, on average, children are consuming eight more sugar cubes every day than the recommended amount, equivalent to around 2,800 excess sugar cubes per year. Children have already exceeded the maximum recommended sugar intake for an 18-year-old by the time they reach their 10th birthday.
According to figures for 2018/19, nearly a quarter of Kent’s four to five-year-olds were measured as overweight or obese, increasing to almost a third of 10 to 11-year-olds.*
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “We know that poor diet and too much sugar is a growing issue and is the key contributor to the growing obesity rates seen both nationally and locally in Kent. Reducing the amount of sugar children consume can often be a challenge for parents but by asking them to ‘Make a swap when you next shop’, we’re making it easier for families to find healthier options of the foods they love.”
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, with around 16 percent of five-year-olds in Kent having tooth decay.
The Change4Life campaign encourages parents to make simple everyday swaps that 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.
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. For more information, apps and advice, go to www.kent.gov.uk/change4life
*In Kent in 2018/19, 24.7% of year R were measured as overweight or obese, compared to the England average of 22.6% found to be overweight and obese,
And 32.2% of Year 6 were measured as overweight or obese, in Kent compared to the England average of 34.3%