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5-year-olds consume their body weight in sugar every year

4-to-10 year olds are consuming over 5,500 sugar cubes a year, that’s around 22 kilos – or the average weight of a 5 year old, new figures based on a Government survey of the eating habits of 3,400 children reveal.

A fifth of 4- to 5-year-olds and a third of 10- to 11- year-olds are overweight or obese. Children are consuming three times the recommended amount of sugar in their diets and this is leading to obesity and tooth decay.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for Public Health England, said:

“Children are having too much sugar, three times the maximum recommended amount. This can lead to painful tooth decay, weight gain and obesity, which can also affect children’s wellbeing as they are more likely to be bullied, have low self-esteem and miss school.

Children aged 5 - shouldn’t have more than 19 grams of sugar per day – that’s five cubes, but it’s very easy to have more.”

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 total amount of sugar it contains in cubes and grams. 

Change4Life’s Sugar Smart campaign isn’t just for parents – as childcare providers you also play an important role in educating children about healthy eating habits. By getting the app it can give you a clearer understanding of the surprising amount of sugar found in foods. For example, there are nine sugar cubes in a can of cola, instantly taking children over their recommended maximum for the day. It’s a great tool to use to work together with parents to focus on their children's health. 

The Change4Life Sugar Smart campaign launches today (January 4th) and includes packs that are being given away to primary age children via schools and local authorities, an eye-opening short film to warn about the health harms of eating and drinking too much sugar plus a Sugar Smart mini series featuring Jamelia and Amanda Ursell with lots of practical tips. Find out more here.

We've created a whole feature in our latest Childcare Professional magazine all about sugar and how it's hidden in children's food. If you're a member, check out page 26 online, in our app or in your printed copy.