New data reveals that children eat 18 years' worth of sugar by just age 10
As a kid, we all loved burgers, french fries and pizza, but if you were anything like me, no matter how much food you had, there was always enough room for dessert. Ice cream, candy, chocolate or cake; kids just crave sugar, and many of them carry over that sweet tooth into adulthood, even as their milk teeth fall out.
While as parents, our jobs are to regulate that sugar intake so you don't have them bouncing off the walls or anything like that. But when every snack, every drink, every outside meal is seemingly packed to the rafters with the stuff, it's hard to keep track, and new data from Public Health England (PHE) says we might be losing that battle.
Based on results from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), PHE says that families need more help in tackling childhood health issues, saying that children consume around eight excess sugar cubes a day from the age of two, which is as much as 2,800 more sugar cubes per year.
As a result, PHE England suspect that the average 10-year-old eats enough sugar to exceed the recommended maximum intake of an 18-year-old, leading to a host of health issues, such as tooth decay, obesity and even type 2 diabetes.
For children aged four to six, the recommended daily intake is around 19g (five sugar cubes), but once they hit 11 years old this rises to around 30g (seven cubes). But most children in the UK are eating around 52g of sugar (13 cubes) a day, and this comes from a whole host of different sources.
"Children are consuming too much sugar, but parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years," says Dr Alison Tedstone, who is the chief nutritionist for PHE. The organisation is working with the food industry to cut sugar by 20 percent.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Dr Tedstone says that if the situation doesn't improve, the PHE are also looking at introducing a "pudding tax" to help curb the UK's sugar problem. "If we see less progress, there would be a case for fiscal measures," says Dr Tedstone. She says there's more data to come later on in the year, but not everyone's a fan of the new findings.
While Tim Rycroft, Chief Operating Officer of the Food and Drink Federation, thinks we should wait a little bit longer before drawing concrete conclusions, he explained that there had been a conscious effort to reduce sugar on the shelves, adding that he was "disappointed" the PHE focused so much on sugar intake, without looking at calorie intake as a whole.
So, if you're a parent, how can you reduce the amount of sugar your kids are consuming?
As a parent, the best course of action is to swap out high-sugar yoghurt with that of a lower sugar content (halving the daily intake), giving your young ones juice drinks with no added sugar (cutting the daily intake by 75 percent), or replacing their high-sugar cereal with low-sugar cereal, which cuts the intake from six sugar cubes to half a sugar cube.
The main sources of sugar in your kids' meals comes from sugary drinks (including squash and juice drinks), processed desserts, and even cereals. Kids' yoghurt and biscuit were also among the main culprits.