A new campaign has been launched to tackle the growing problem of childhood obesity.
Parents in Suffolk are being encouraged to get “Sugar Smart” and take control of their children’s sugar intake as part of a new campaign.
Supported by Public Health Suffolk, the Change4Life campaign follows revelations that four-to-10 year olds consume an estimated 5,500 sugar cubes a year (22kg), weighing the same as an average five-year-old.
Currently, 20.9% of four to five-year-olds are overweight or obese in Suffolk, increasing to 31.8% in 10 to 11-year-olds.
This means they are more likely to become obese adults who are more prone to a range of serious health problems, such as heart disease, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes.
Nationally, there are now 2.5 million people suffering from Type 2 diabetes, 90% of which are overweight or obese.
To help reduce sugar intake, a new Sugar Smart app has been launched to help show how much sugar there is in everyday food and drink.
The free app works by scanning the barcode of products and revealing the amount of total sugar it contains in cubes and grams. Everyone can download the Change4Life Sugar Smart app via the App Store or Google Play to find out how much sugar is in the food and drink they consume every day and search ‘Change4Life’ for lots of free support, tips, ideas and recipes.
Councillor Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Health, said: “The latest child obesity figures for Suffolk highlight the importance for families to cut back on sugar in the diet.
“Sugar is lurking in everyday food and drink, taking children well over the maximum recommended amount.
“We’re encouraging parents across Suffolk to download the new Sugar Smart app and take control of the amount of sugar their family consumes, to protect them from the health risks of having too much sugar.”
Change4Life has also created a short film for social media channels, which warns parents about the health harms of eating and drinking too much sugar, including becoming overweight and tooth decay.
The film brings to life the excessive amount of sugar consumed by the average child per year; currently three times more than the new maximum recommended daily amount.
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 five shouldn’t have more than 19 grams of sugar per day – that’s five cubes, but it’s very easy to have more.
“That’s why we want parents to be “Sugar Smart”. Our easy to use app will help parents see exactly where the sugar in their children’s diet is coming from, so they can make informed choices about what to cut down on.”
As well as the video to raise awareness, five million Sugar Smart packs will be given away to primary school children and their families via schools and retailer.
There will be 25 Change4Life Sugar Smart roadshows, taking place across the country from January to March.