UK'S SUGAR TIMEBOMB
Revealed: Children face lifetime of ill health by guzzling 22 STONES of sugar by age of ten
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?