Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

Limit kids' snacking to two a day, urges United Kingdom health agency

Data shows children eat a large number of snacks high in sugar and calories Data shows children eat a large number of snacks high in sugar and calories
Melissa Porter | 02 January, 2018, 21:09

The government health body has advised parents of under-11s to swap out chocolate and crisps for two health snacks, containing no more than 100 calories.

Unhealthy snacks contribute half the sugar consumed by children in the United Kingdom, campaigners have warned.

The guidance - from Public Health England - warns children are eating three times too much sugar, with half coming from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks. Each year that includes nearly 400 biscuits, more than 120 cakes, 100 candies, 70 chocolate bars and 70 ice creams, washed down with more than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.

As part of PHE's campaign, there will be special offers on healthier snacks at selected supermarkets.

The latest campaign from Public Health England, the United Kingdom government's advisory unit for health policy in England, is trying to encourage parents to look again at how their children snack.

"The true extent of childrens's snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar", says Dr Alison Tedstone, PHE's chief nutritionist.

Concerned over the high intake of sugar from unhealthy snacks among young children in England, a new campaign has urged parents to limit the intake of calories to just 200 per day by including foods such as malt loaf, low-sugar yoghurt and drinks with no added sugar.

'To make it easier for busy families, we've developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking - look for 100 calories snacks, two a day max'.

Meanwhile the Government also recommends four- to six-year-olds have no more than 19g or five teaspoons of sugar a day, and seven- to ten-year-olds to consume no more than 24g a day, or six teaspoons.

PHE is promoting the Change4Life campaign, which says children should eat just two snacks per day and that they should contain just 100 calories each.

A pastry contains around 270 calories.

PHE's improved Change4Life "Food Scanner" app also shows parents how many calories, sugar, salt and saturated fat is in their food to help make healthier choices easier.

Justine Roberts, chief executive and founder of Mumsnet, said: "The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mindblowing, and it can often be hard to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren't".

"We also need to create healthier environments by preventing new fast food restaurants opening within close proximity to schools and colleges - we can not expect children to make healthier food choices when there are temping cheap treats lurking close to school".