Devon health bosses are backing a new campaign which encourages parents to reduce the amount of sugar their children consume by making some simple swaps.
The new Change4Life campaign, which launched nationally yesterday, and Devon’s Director of Public Health and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing are encouraging people to make the change, as data reveals over 30% of children in their last year of primary school in Devon are already overweight or obese.
Dr Virginia Pearson, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said: “Too much sugar can lead to complications such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as increasing the risk of some types of cancer.
“If children have healthier diets, they do better at school, have better concentration levels and are more likely to become healthy adults. This Sugar Swaps campaign enables us to make simple changes to our diets, and provides support to parents who need it.”
Of the children measured in Devon, 1,630 children (23.4%), who entered reception class at school were recorded as overweight or obese. Children who are overweight or obese when they are young are far more likely to become overweight or obese adults and these figures demonstrate the need for a better balance between calorie intake and physical activity in young people.
While guidelines state that no more that 10% of a person’s daily energy or calorie intake should be made up of sugar, Public Health England figures suggest that currently children aged 4-10 years are consuming up to 50% more than this. Children aged 4-10 get 17% of their daily sugar from soft drinks; 17% from biscuits, buns, cakes, pastries and fruit pies, 14% from confectionery, 13% from fruit juice, and 8% from breakfast cereals.
Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Andrea Davis, said: “As a mum myself, I know it’s all too easy to let my children choose sugary drinks and snacks, especially as it’s not always obvious which products contain the most sugar.
“However, by using the sugar swaps campaign, it’s really simple to make some healthier choices, and it’s a fun way of engaging children into learning about nutrition and healthier lifestyle choices.
“We’re all thinking about losing a few pounds after Christmas, and this is a great way for the whole family to get involved in some simple changes to their diet, and reap the benefits of a healthier start to the new year.”
Change4Life Sugar Swaps launches following a new survey amongst Netmums users who were polled on their views on sugar. The results highlight that nearly half (47%) of mums surveyed think their family has too much sugar in their diets and two thirds of mums (67%) are worried about the amount of sugar their children consume.
Change4Life recommends four simple Sugar Swaps for mums to choose from, tackling different ‘sugar occasions’ in the day:
- The Breakfast Swap: sugary cereal for plain cereal e.g. wholewheat biscuit cereal
- The Drink Swap: e.g. from sugary drinks to sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks
- The After School Swap: for example from muffins to fruited teacake
- The Pudding Swap: for example from ice cream to low-fat lower-sugar yoghurt
Public Health England has worked with Netmums and the University of Reading looking at 50 families whose diets were analysed for sugar content, before and during the Change4Life’s Sugar Swaps. Early analysis showed:
- On average the families were consuming 483g of sugar a day at the beginning of the challenge
- Their sugar intake was reduced to 287g per day when making Sugar Swaps
- This meant an average daily saving of 196g of sugar per family each day, or 49 sugar cubes
The campaign will be supplemented by television, radio, digital and poster advertising, and an email support programme will be available for families who sign up.
Throughout the campaign, families will be able to register for their free Sugar Swaps pack which they will receive through the post. The packs are filled with hints, tips and recipe suggestions designed to help parents cut down the sugary foods and drinks consumed by their children, plus money-off vouchers, swap cards and stickers.
To sign up, visit https://sugarswaps.change4life.co.uk and register.