Sugar Smart app fights unhealthy children diets

CHILDREN in Thurrock are being encouraged to cut down the amount of sugar they eat as figures show they are eating too much.

Shocking figures show that children are eating as much as three times more added sugar than recommended guidelines. Four-to-10 year olds consume an estimated 5,500 sugar cubes a year (22kg), weighing the same as an average five-year-old.

A new Sugar Smart app has been launched to help parents see how much sugar there is in everyday food and drink. The free app works by scanning the barcode of products and revealing the amount of total sugar it contains in cubes and grams.

Children under six are recommended to eat no more than 5 cubes of added sugar a day, which rises to 7 cubes for everyone over 11, but many items of food and drink contain significantly more sugar on their own. A single can of cola contains over nine cubes of added sugar, a 43g chocolate bar contains six cubes and a 200ml juice drink contains over five cubes.

The new campaign from Change4Life aims to warn parents about the health harms of eating and drinking too much sugar, which could result in becoming overweight and lead to tooth decay.

Almost a quarter (22.1%) of four to five-year-olds are overweight or obese in Thurrock, increasing to 36.6% in 10 to 11-year-olds. This means they are more likely to become obese adults, who are more prone to a range of serious health problems, such as heart disease, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes.

And to help combat high sugar diets and their health effects, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, has announced plans to introduce a sugar tax in hospitals for high sugar snacks and drinks. The revenue raised will be used to help improve the health of the 1.3 million workers in the NHS.

Dr Anand Deshpande, Chair of NHS Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Obesity is a particular problem in Thurrock, with a higher number of obese adults and children compared to the England average. Obesity in childhood can have detrimental effects on a child’s physical and mental health, increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety.

“Research also shows that obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Obesity in adulthood can lead to life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers.

“We need to protect the health of our children, and this new app can help us do that. By knowing how much sugar our children eat, we can make those necessary changes that can improve their quality of life.”

The Sugar Smart app is available to download now from the app store or Google play. You can also find free support tips and ideas on the Change4Life website at http://www.nhs.uk/change4life

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