(NaturalNews) In a new campaign, Public Health England (PHE) is now urging parents to pay more attention to the amount of sugar in food and drink after studies have found young children consume more than three times the Recommended Dietary Allowance.(1)
The alarming statistics from health officials at PHE state that children as young as five are already consuming the equivalent of their entire body weight in sugar in a one-year period. The UK government is preparing to publish a new strategy aimed at combating childhood obesity and urges parents to get “Sugar Smart” amid discussion as to whether a sugar tax should be introduced.
Over the course of a year, the average child in the UK between the ages of four and ten is consuming just over 5,500 sugar cubes – weighing 49 pounds, which is more than the average weight of a five-year-old.(2)
On average, five-year-olds should only be consuming five cubes’ worth of sugar per day, which rises to six cubes for children aged between six and ten, and seven cubes for those over eleven. However, this latest PHE study claims that children are actually having three times more than this recommended maximum intake.
It can be hard to imagine what five sugar cubes actually equates to – to put it into perspective, one can (330ml) of cola contains a whopping nine sugar cubes. Giving a five-year-old just one can per day means that they are already drinking almost double their recommended sugar intake, excluding any other sugar that they will probably consume on top of this.
The risks of too much sugar
Tooth decay is now the most common reason that children aged between five and nine are admitted into hospital, with an increase of 14% in hospital admissions over the last three years. Studies show that almost half of all eight-year-olds suffer from tooth decay – a statistic that is hard to ignore.
Meanwhile, one in five children is overweight or obese by the age of five – and one in three by the age of eleven. Diabetes in children can severely impact upon their health and well-being, causing life-long problems such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, blindness, amputation of limbs and kidney failure.(3)
Overweight children also have a lower quality of life due to the increased likelihood that they will be bullied at school and develop a lower sense of self-worth, which can cause long-term emotional damage.
PHE has now launched a free app to help parents keep track of the amount of sugar they are feeding their children on a daily basis, with the hope of alleviating the growing problem by raising awareness.(4)
The app allows parents to scan the bar code of everyday foods and drinks, revealing their sugar content and encouraging parents to limit their child’s intake of sugar.
Meanwhile, Ministers are expected to reveal plans in the coming weeks that will be stricter on the marketing campaigns that surround the advertising of unhealthy foods, with limitations on TV advertisements that are shown during family viewing times.
The PHE call for a sugar tax has so far been unsuccessful; however, celebrity influencers such as Jamie Oliver have started to show their support for the concept, and it is likely that such measures will become necessary over the next few years if parents do not do their part in helping combat this critical, nationwide problem.