The local NHS is asking parents to cut the amount of sugar from their children’s diets and swap to less sweet alternatives to help reduce the risk to their long-term health.
Children consume around eight excess sugar cubes each day through a variety of sources such as chocolate, sugary drinks and cakes. This adds up to around 2,800 excess sugar cubes per year.
The risks to a child’s health includes becoming overweight and obese, as well as having tooth decay. Obese children more likely to grow into obese adults and are at a higher risk of developing preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which is one of the main causes of early death in the UK.
But is it not all bad news: swapping to low sugar alternatives could easily reduce a child’s sugar intake and support them to develop healthier habits and improve their life expectancy.
Parents can cut the amount of sugar by :
- offering low sugar cereals such as porridge or wheat biscuits;
- giving their children water or a no-added sugar juice drink, to cut back from two cubes to half a cube or less per drink;
- starting the day well with a low-sugar cereal, to cut back from three cubes to half a cube per bowl – and try to avoid adding additional sugar on top.
Parents are also advised to carefully check the labels on food packaging to see how much sugar is included – did you know a can of coke contains up to eight teaspoons of sugar? Artificial sweeteners are also not a good health choice, so watch out of low-sugar, high-sweetener products too.
Dr Imogen Staveley, local GP and Deputy Chair at NHS Warwickshire North Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“We know that local children are consuming too much sugar, but the good news is that parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years. By making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake and improving their chances in later years.
“Take time to read the food and drink labels as cutting back on sugar can be as simple as changing from a chocolate or frosted coated cereal to a low sugar alternative like porridge or a wholegrain wheat biscuit type cereal or replacing a higher sugar drink for water, milk or a no added sugar drinks (avoid ones with added artificial sweeteners too). If we cut back the sugar now before our children become young adults, we are setting them up for a healthier, happier future.”
For sugar swapping ideas visit the Change 4 Life website: https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/food-facts/sugar/sugar-swaps-for-kids#sugar-swap-tips
For more information about the effects of sugar on our health visit: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/