Parents in Wolverhampton are being urged to “Be Food Smart” and take control of their children’s diets.
It follows new research that shows children consume half the daily recommended sugar intake even before the school day has begun.
It found that children in England consume more than 11g of sugar at breakfast time alone – the equivalent of almost three sugar cubes. The recommended daily maximum is no more than five cubes of sugar for four to six-year-olds and no more than six cubes for seven to 10-year-olds per day. By the end of the day, children are in fact consuming more than three times these recommendations.
Sugar is a primary cause not only of tooth decay but also obesity, and latest data shows 25.3% of children in Wolverhampton are either overweight or obese when they begin in Reception class, rising to 40.3% of pupils by the time they are in Year 6. This compares to a West Midlands average of 23.3% and 36.6% respectively.
Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “These are shocking figures and show the extent of the problem we face with regards to obesity in Wolverhampton. I would urge parents to heed the warning and take control of their children’s sugar consumption.”
Public Health England’s new Change4Life campaign urges parents to Be Food Smart and take more control of their children’s diets. A free Be Food Smart app has been developed to highlight just how much sugar, saturated fat and salt can be found in everyday food and drink that their children consume.
The app helps and encourages families to choose healthier options and works by scanning the barcode of products allowing parents to compare brands, and features food detective activities for children and mini missions the whole family can enjoy.
Some of the main sources of sugar at breakfast time include sugary cereals, drinks, and spreads. Away from the breakfast table, children are also consuming too much sugar, saturated fat and salt in items such as confectionery, biscuits, muffins, pastries and soft drinks, which all contribute to an unhealthy diet.
Dr Lola Abudu, director of Health and Wellbeing for PHE West Midlands, said: “Our Be Food Smart app takes some of the pressure off parents and helping them to choose healthier food and drink options for their children.”
The campaign also helps parents identify the health harms of children consuming too much sugar saturated fat and salt.
To download the app, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/change4life-beta/be-food-smart.