UK'S SUGAR TIME­BOMB

Re­vealed: Chil­dren face life­time of ill health by guz­zling 22 STONES of sugar by age of ten

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Kate Pick­les Health Re­porter

CHIL­DREN are con­sum­ing 300lb of sugar by the age of ten, shock­ing fig­ures re­veal to­day.

At al­most 22 stone, the av­er­age in­take is twice the rec­om­mended to­tal – wreck­ing young­sters’ teeth and fu­ture health.

Ex­perts called on fam­i­lies to drop sugar-rich ce­re­als, yo­ghurts and juices in favour of healthy al­ter­na­tives. They also said the tax brought in last year on sug­ared drinks should be ex­tended to other prod­ucts.

‘If we are to curb our es­ca­lat­ing child­hood obe­sity epi­demic then the Gov­ern­ment must en­force more hard-hit­ting tac­tics,’ said Kawther Hashem of the char­ity Ac­tion on Sugar.

These could in­clude clearer la­belling, halv­ing sugar lev­els in all prod­ucts, a tax on con­fec­tionery and a ban on the pro­mo­tion of un­healthy food and drink, she said.

With a third of young­sters judged over­weight, Britain has the worst obe­sity rate in Western Europe. From the age of two, chil­dren are con­sum­ing an av­er­age of al­most 2oz of sugar – 52 grams – a day. This is more than twice the rec­om­mended daily max­i­mum.

Last year 26,000 un­der-tens were taken to hos­pi­tal with rot­ten teeth. Be­ing over­weight in­creases the risk of ma­jor health prob­lems

in­clud­ing type two di­a­betes. Of­fi­cials to­day launch their lat­est at­tempt to change the na­tional diet, sug­gest­ing that par­ents could, for ex­am­ple, re­place choco­late ce­re­als with shred­ded wheat or por­ridge.

‘Chil­dren are con­sum­ing too much sugar, but par­ents can take ac­tion now to pre­vent this build­ing up over the years,’ said Dr Ali­son Ted­stone, of Pub­lic Health Eng­land, which pro­duced the fig­ures.

‘To make this eas­ier for busy fam­i­lies, [fit­ness ini­tia­tive] Change4Lif­e is of­fer­ing a straight­for­ward so­lu­tion – by mak­ing sim­ple swaps, chil­dren can have health­ier ver­sions of ev­ery­day foods and drinks, while sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing their sugar in­take.’

Lat­est fig­ures sug­gest food man­u­fac­tur­ers have cut sugar lev­els by an av­er­age of just 2 per cent, against tar­gets of 5 per cent. Dr Ted­stone told the Daily Tele­graph that a ‘pud­ding tax’ Col­lege Dr snacks on Max cakes, of Davie, was Pae­di­atrics bis­cuits now of needed. the and Royal sug­ary and Child food la­belling Health, called rules. for clearer ‘Sugar is in so many of the prod­ucts said. ‘When fam­i­lies a can of love,’ cola con­tains he the equiv­a­lent of nine cubes of sugar, you can see how easy it is for a child to reach and ex­ceed their daily limit very quickly.

‘The in­for­ma­tion pre­sented on prod­uct pack­ag­ing can be mis­lead­ing or hard to in­ter­pret so we need the Gov­ern­ment to bring in clear front-of-pack la­belling on all foods, to help fam­i­lies make these im­por­tant de­ci­sions.’

How­ever, Chris Snow­don, head of life­style eco­nomics at the In­sti­tute of Eco­nomic Af­fairs, said sugar con­sump­hood tion chil­dren much had slashed. sugar al­ready are ‘The as eat­ing the been only twice Gov­ern­ment dras­ti­cally rea­son as Gov­ern­ment rec­om­mends ar­bi­trar­ily is that halved the

the sugar guide­lines,’ he said. ‘These un­re­al­is­tic and un­sci­en­tific new guide­lines opened the door to gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence in the food sup­ply on a vast scale. The re­al­ity is that sugar con­sump­tion in Britain is sig­nif­i­cantly lower than it was in the 1970s.’ A De­part­ment of Health spokesman said: ‘The Gov­ern­ment is world-lead­ing in its ap­proach to tack­ling child- obe­sity and the suc­cess of the sugar tax shows how we are al­ready driv­ing for­ward change to im­prove the health of our na­tion.

‘But there is more to do and we all have a part to play in help­ing our chil­dren to make healthy choices which help to re­duce the risk of obe­sity, di­a­betes and tooth de­cay.

‘Progress is be­ing made in how we achieve this as part of our child­hood obe­sity plan, with sev­eral con­sul­ta­tions un­der way on the ban­ning of en­ergy drinks as well as calo­rie la­belling in res­tau­rants, cafes and take­aways.’ The chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, Pro­fes­sor Sally Davies, wants junk food to be taxed and veg­eta­bles sub­sidised to tackle our obe­sity cri­sis and save chil­dren from a life­time of ill health.

She says a raft of vol­un­tary agree­ments by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments to en­cour­age firms to make their prod­ucts health­ier had failed. De­mand­ing ac­tion, she said last month: ‘Do you want to call that “nanny state”? If so I am chief nanny.’

Con­sul­ta­tion on the lat­est phase of the child­hood obe­sity strat­egy – in­clud­ing a ban on junk food ad­ver­tis­ing be­fore the 9pm wa­ter­shed – is al­ready un­der way. Calo­rie con­tent in ready meals, sand­wiches and dishes served in res­tau­rants must be cut by 2024 un­der the Gov­ern­ment’s plans.

THE Mail has al­ways be­lieved the nanny state is a poor sub­sti­tute for in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity. But some health is­sues are so huge, and so ur­gent, that the case for Gov­ern­ment ac­tion seems over­whelm­ing. So it is with the obe­sity epi­demic. A third of chil­dren leave pri­mary school over­weight. If not tack­led, this sets the tone for later life, bring­ing di­a­betes, res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease and chronic tooth de­cay.

We re­port to­day that chil­dren eat the equiv­a­lent of eight sugar cubes above the rec­om­mended in­take ev­ery day – mainly in sug­ary ce­re­als, juices and yo­ghurts. And of course it’s the NHS that picks up the tab.

The tax on sweet fizzy drinks had an ef­fect even be­fore it was brought in, with man­u­fac­tur­ers re­duc­ing sugar con­tent to avoid pay­ing it. So ex­tend­ing the tax to food and other sug­ary drinks and im­prov­ing la­belling could cre­ate a wider rev­o­lu­tion.

Yes, it may be nanny statism – but the ev­i­dence is that it works. If it can help solve the obe­sity epi­demic, isn’t it worth a try?

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