Children in England accept already accomplished this year’s amoroso limit, acquaint experts

Children in England have already eaten and drunk more than a whole year’s worth of sugar in the six months since January, says Public Health England (PHE).

Too much sugar is blamed for high obesity rates in children and dental decay. The Department for Health agency is urging parents to try to cut back on sugary drinks, cakes and biscuits. Its guidance says that children aged four to 10 should have no more than the equivalent of five or six cubes of sugar per day, but their intake is more than double that, at an average of 13 cubes.

“We’re barely halfway through the year and already children have consumed far more sugar than is healthy – it’s no surprise this is contributing to an obesity crisis,” said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE.

“Snacks and drinks are adding unnecessary sugar to children’s diets without us even noticing. Swapping to lower- or no-added-sugar alternatives is something all parents can work towards.”

In spite of the publicity around the sugar levy, which began in April, sugary drinks such as colas, lemonades and juices are still one of the biggest sources of sugar in children’s diets. They account for 10% of sugar consumed by children, as do buns, cakes, pastries and fruit pies.

Biscuits are almost as big a problem, making up 9% of children’s intake, with spreads, jams and table sugar also contributing 9%. Other big sources of sugar include breakfast cereals (8%), chocolate confectionery (7%), and yoghurts, fromage frais and other dairy desserts (6%).

Fruit juice and smoothies can count as one of the five fruits and vegetables everybody is encouraged to eat per day, but they contain a lot of natural sugar. PHE says one serving a day of no more than 150ml is enough, which should be drunk with a meal not as a snack.

PHE suggests parents should swap their children’s sugary drinks for water, lower fat plain milks, sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks. It also offers ideas on its Change4Life website. It says lower sugar snacks include fruit, plain rice cakes, toast, fruit teacakes, malted loaf or bagels with lower-fat spread.

The Obesity Health Alliance said PHE’s figures were alarming. “These startling figures highlight the need for further robust action from government in their upcoming second edition of the Childhood Obesity Plan. A package of measures including restrictions on the advertising of junk food to children, action on price promotions on unhealthy products and clearer food labelling will help parents to make healthy choices and ensure their children have the healthiest possible start in life,” said its lead, Caroline Cerny.

PHE’s advice to families came as the British Dental Association warned about the impact of sugary drinks and junk food marketing during the World Cup. Coca-Cola is said to be investing £2.5m into a UK campaign that includes digital, social and out-of-home advertising, and promotion codes to unlock branded content in the top-selling video game FIFA 18.

“Whether your kids are sitting in front of the match on TV, on their smartphones or games consoles, they will be unable to escape wall-to-wall promotions for products fuelling tooth decay and obesity,” said the BDAS’s health and science chair, Russ Ladwa.

“These increasingly sophisticated tactics demand a coherent response from government. When messages are being delivered seamlessly to children through tweets, apps and Xboxes, even talk of pre-watershed ad bans feels like 20th-century responses to 21st-century tactics.