Most parents are aware of the impact too much sugar can have on children’s health, and aside from the associations with obesity and type 2 diabetes it also increases the risk of tooth decay, which can become a serious problem if left to develop.
While many parents limit their children’s consumption of snacks and drinks with a high sugar content, such as chocolate and cola, there are a some less obvious foods that also have added sugar, including some low-fat yoghurts and wholemeal bread, which are more tricky to factor in when trying to monitor sugar intake.
Children’s recommended sugar limits are determined by age, with four-to-six year-olds allocated a maximum of five sugar cubes per day (19g), seven-to-ten year-olds up to six cubes per day (24g) and children aged 11+ around seven cubes per day (30g). Public Health England (PHE) estimates that, in reality, children between the ages of four and ten are consuming an average of 5500 sugar cubes (22kg) of added sugar per year: around three times more than the recommended limit.
To help parents make more informed choices about the foods their children are consuming, PHE has developed a handy Sugar Smart app as part of its Change4Life campaign, making it quick and easy to see how much sugar is contained within everyday food and drink items.
The app works by using the phone’s camera to scan the barcodes of food and drink products, with over 75,000 items available to check. It then provides information on the product’s sugar content, displaying the results in cubes, which enables parents to effectively monitor how much sugar their children are consuming.
The Sugar Smart app is free, and can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. The app’s website also provides useful information on the effects of too much sugar, foods that contain added sugar and ways to manage sugar intake, and provides simple recipes for delicious, low-sugar alternatives to various meals and snacks.