24th February 2017
The food and drink industry is being urged to reduce the amount of sugar in their products as new calculations from the Obesity Health Alliance show that 11 to 18 year old children are consuming, on average, the same amount of sugar as 20 chocolate chip biscuits a day.
The call comes as sugar is present in many of the food and drinks that children consume on a daily basis, making it difficult to consume less than the maximum daily recommendation for sugar. It also makes it hard for parents to know how much sugar their children are having.
The Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 39 leading health charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups (including the Institute of Health Visiting), is urging the food and drink industry to comply with the Government’s reformulation programme to reduce the amount of sugar in food commonly eaten by children, by 20 per cent by 2020. Research has shown that reformulation programmes that reduce certain ingredients in products are likely to be one of the most effective ways to help people eat more healthily.
The figures, calculated from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey also show that on average all age groups are consuming more free sugars than the Government’s recommendation which is 30 grams of free sugars a day for over 11 year olds and adults (seven sugar cubes). The highest intake is in 11 to 18 year olds (73.2 g/day), followed by 19 to 64 year olds (59.9 g/day) and then 4 to 10 year olds (53.5/day). Free sugars are any sugars added to food or drinks, or found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.
Consuming too much sugar is one the key drivers to the population becoming overweight or obese. Obese children are around five times more likely to become obese adults making them more likely to develop serious health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and liver disease, dental issues and associated mental health problems. Currently more than one in five children are overweight or obese when they start school, rising to more than one in three by the time they leave primary school.