05/01/2017 07:29 GMT | Updated 06/01/2018 05:12 GMT

Be Food Smart When Shopping For Your Family

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Healthy eating has never been a hotter topic.

And as the New Year begins now is the time we often start focusing on how we're feeling, on our family's health and thinking about what we're eating and drinking on a daily basis.

If you're a parent then feeling like you're in control of your children's diets will no doubt be one of your top priorities but with our busy lives, advertising and pester power this can be tricky.

That's why Change4Life has launched a new Be Food Smart campaign, which can help to make your family shop healthier.

The importance of this really comes to light when we look at the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which shows our children are consuming far too much sugar. The reality is our kids are consuming half the daily recommended sugar intake before the morning school bell rings - that's 11g (or 3 cubes) of sugar at breakfast time alone, often from sugary cereals, drinks and spreads.

And by the end of the day, the picture looks even worse.

By the time they go to bed, children have consumed more than 3 times the recommended daily amount, which is no more than 5 cubes of sugar for 4-to 6-year olds and no more than 6 cubes for 7- to 10-year olds.

A survey of 200 parents conducted as part of the campaign also found that parents are unsure what makes up a healthy breakfast for their children.

It found that, of those parents whose child was consuming the equivalent of 3 or more sugar cubes in their breakfast, over 8 in 10 considered their child's breakfast as healthy.

So how can we make it easier to recognise and choose healthier options?

A key aspect of Be Food Smart is a new smartphone app that brings food labels to life.

It allows parents to scan the barcode of their everyday food and drink to see how much sugar, saturated fat and salt they contain in an easy to understand way so the healthy choice can be the easy choice.

It also features food detective activities for children and mini missions that the whole family can enjoy, embedding healthy food and drink choices early on in life.

The campaign website is also there to help parents identify the health harms of children eating and drinking too much sugar, saturated fat and salt, including becoming overweight or obese.

Recent reports confirm that childhood obesity in England has reached alarming rates. More than 1 in 5 children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to more than a third by the time they leave.

Being overweight as a child can lead to serious health consequences later in life and sadly it can also lead to bullying and low self-esteem because of their weight.

So action is needed, but I also want to reassure you that the responsibility is not just down to individuals or parents - all of society has a role.

Industry, government and businesses all have a role to play in tackling childhood obesity. As part of the Childhood Obesity Plan, Public Health England has commenced working with the businesses that make and sell the food our children eat - both out of home and in - on reducing the amount of sugar found in these foods, including yoghurt, breakfast cereals, biscuits, and sweet spreads.

This work will run alongside the recently announced soft drinks industry levy, sometimes nicknamed the "sugar tax". Already, we have seen some great progress made by manufacturers and retailers reducing the amount of sugar found in popular food and drink choices, but there is still a way to go.

It's the small steps we take today that can help protect the future health of all our children. So parents, Be Food Smart and download the new free app from the iTunes Store or Google Play and take control of your family's diet.