I’m discussing the new report out today by Public Health England.
Half of the sugar young children in England consume comes from unhealthy snacks and sweet drinks, figures show.
On average, primary school children have at least three sugary snacks a day, Public Health England found.
This means they can easily consume three times more sugar than the recommended maximum.
PHE has now launched a campaign to encourage parents to look for healthier snacks of no more than 100 calories – and to limit them to two a day.
The eight-week Change4Life campaign will offer money-off vouchers towards items including malt loaf, lower-sugar yoghurt and drinks with no added sugar in some supermarkets.
Children between the ages of four and 10 consumed 51.2% of their sugar from unhealthy snacks, including biscuits, cakes, pastries, buns, sweets and fizzy and juice drinks, PHE’s National Diet and Nutritional Survey found.
Each year children consume, on average, some 400 biscuits, 120 cakes, buns and pastries, 100 portions of sweets, 70 chocolate bars and ice creams and 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink, the data shows.
Too much sugar can cause tooth decay and obesity as we know but what do you do when they ask for a snack?
Perhaps knowing how much sugar or unhelpful calories in regular snacks will help you decide?
- An ice-cream – about 175 calories
- A pack of crisps – 190 calories
- A chocolate bar – 200 calories
- A pastry – 270 calories
But I think change happens from you – how you talk about food, what you eat, what you model as a parent.
How about jotting down in a food diary for a week the food you eat and when – you may just notice a pattern that you may be unconsciously passing on to your kids.
Ponder changing what your kids eat for breakfast as children are packing in so much sugar at breakfast that half their daily allowance has already been eaten before school ! How about eggs, or savoury breakfasts instead to kick start the day? Porridge keeps the hunger at bay for longer too which helps reaching for sugary snacks too early.
The secret is PLANNING!
Plan for snacks, plan what you give the kids for their snacks in their lunch boxes.
Plan their lunch box too if they have one at school. As a former Deputy Head I saw kids pass on eating their sandwich to jumping straight to the crisps and chocolate bar.
How about seeing crisps and sweets as treats and limiting them to a couple of times a week instead of daily?
Also take a moment to just ‘Pause To Ponder’ your amount of exercise – and what message your kids are picking up about healthy levels of exercise from you – perhaps you could walk to school a couple of days a week, go for a weekly bike ride as a family, or walk the dog together on Sundays.
Change Is A Mindset
Change is a mindset and don’t do the whole ‘New Year’s Resolution’ bit and give up after a week!
How about changing the words you use from ‘I’ll ‘TRY’ to give the kids healthier snacks’ to ‘I’m GOING to give the kids healthier snacks.
It can make a BIG difference.
The Change4Life campaign now wants parents to give their children a maximum of two snacks a day containing no more than 100 calories each, not including fruit and vegetables.
The campaign will offer parents special offers on a range of healthier snacks – ones with 100 calories or fewer – at selected supermarkets, Public Health England said.
Healthier suggested snacks include packs of chopped vegetables and fruit, malt loaf, sugar-free jelly, and plain rice crackers.
Public Health England said it had also improved its app that reveals the content of sugar, salt and saturated fat in food and drink.
Lunch box snacks
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, told the BBC she hoped the campaign would help to “empower” parents to make healthier snacking choices for their children.
“If you wander through a supermarket you see many more things being sold as snacks than ever before,” she said.
“What has changed is kids’ lunch boxes are getting full of snacking products. It leads to a lot of calories for lunch.
“Our research showed us that parents appreciated a rule of thumb. They were surprised how much sugar their children were consuming in snacks.”
Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet, said: “The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mind blowing, and it can often be difficult to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren’t.
“This rule of thumb from Change4Life will help parents make healthier choices, which can only be a good thing.”
Public Health England has previously called on businesses to cut sugar by 20% by 2020, and by 5% in 2017, but experts have questioned how the targets can be enforced.
A sugar tax on the UK soft drinks industry has already been announced and will come into force in April.
Take a look at this app that reveals the sugar content of food and drink.
Any great ideas about healthy snacks? I’d love to hear your thoughts.