The most important meal of the day is turning out to be a curse for school going kids. According to Public Health England, the average English child is consuming up so much on sugar before even leaving the house they have eaten the equivalent of three cubes of sugar (11g) in their morning breakfast.
Despite increasing awareness of how much sugar is in some breakfast cereals and other food and drink, some parents are still unaware of just how much they are feeding their kids. A National Diet and Nutrition Survey of 200 parents with children aged four to 10 showed that the problem starts at breakfast - with kids eating the equivalent of more than 1,000 cubes of sugar at breakfast over the course of a year.
National Child Measurement Program data also shows that more than one in five children are overweight or obese before they start primary school, increasing to more than one third by secondary school.
And Public Health England’s new Change4Life campaign blames sugar-packed cereals, soft drinks, juices and spreads. Eating so much sugar so early in the morning often means that by the end of the day, the average child has consumed three times more than their recommended daily allowance which is fives cubes of sugar for four to six year-olds and six cubes for seven to 10-year-olds.
As part of the new healthy eating campaign, Change4Life has launched its sugar and food tracking app which shows the amount of sugar, fat and salt as cartoon renderings of a sugar cube, fat globule and salt packet.
The Be Food Smart app is free and scans the barcode of a product to show parents how to make healthier choices when they shop.
“Children have far too much sugar, and a lot of it is before their first lesson of the day. It's crucial for children to have a healthy breakfast, but we know the mornings in a busy household can be fraught,” says chief nutritionist at Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone.
“That's why we've developed our Be Food Smart App, taking some of the pressure off parents and helping them to choose healthier food and drink options for their children.” Sara Stanner, science director.
“We know a healthy breakfast can make an important contribution to children’s vitamin and mineral intakes and its consumption has been linked to many positive health outcomes.” The UK government’s sugar tax of fizzy beverages is due to come into force in April 2018 and is predicted to reduce the obesity rate of primary schoolchildren by ten percent.