PARENTS
02/01/2019 00:01 GMT | Updated 02/01/2019 11:17 GMT

10-Year-Olds In The UK Have Consumed 18 Years' Worth Of Sugar, Figures Show

Kids are consuming around eight excess sugar cubes each day.

Children have already exceeded the maximum recommended sugar intake for an 18-year-old by the time they reach their 10th birthday, according to Public Health England. 

The figure, based on kids’ total sugar consumption from the age of two, comes as a new Change4Life campaign launches today, 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, kids are still consuming around eight more sugar cubes each day than they should be – the equivalent of 2,800 excess sugar cubes per year. To help parents manage this, Change4Life is encouraging them to “make a swap when you next shop”. 

[Read More: Do you know how much sugar is in these popular children’s snacks?]

“Children are consuming too much sugar, but parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years,” said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE. “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.”

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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. 

Making these swaps every day could remove around 2,500 sugar cubes per year from a child’s diet. 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 ten-to-eleven 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. 

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.

[Read More: What 100-calorie snacks can I give my kids?]

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.

In May 2018, PHE published progress against the first-year sugar reduction ambition of 5%, which showed an average 2% reduction in sugar across categories for retailers and manufacturers.

While breakfast cereals, yoghurts and fromage frais were among the categories meeting or exceeding the 5% ambition, some products in these categories are still high in sugar, which is why Change4Life is making it easier for parents to find lower-sugar options.