A new Government initiative is calling for parents to think twice about the number of treats they give their kids.
With a third of youngsters reportedly leaving primary school either overweight or obese, the Change4Life campaign is aiming to tackle the problem head-on by cutting 20 per cent of sugar from the products children consume by 2020.
According to Public Health England, children are tucking into 400 biscuits, 100 portions of sweets and more than 120 cakes each year – quite staggering figures once they’re all totted up.
‘The true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they’re concerned,’ said Dr Alison Tedstone, PHE’s chief nutritionist.
‘We’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help families move towards healthier snacking. Look for 100 calories snacks, two a day max.’
Wondering what family favourites would now be viewed by the Government as naughty? A chocolate bar contains around 200 calories, while an ice cream will set you back 175 calories. A packet of crisps totals 190 calories.
Dr Alison Tedstone’s colleague Orla Hugeuniot suggests referring to the traffic light system that can be found on packaging for guidance.
‘It’s a really simple way of bringing down the amount of sugar in children’s diets. We’re not saying they can never give children chocolate or a biscuit ever again – but it cannot be a daily occurrence.
‘If it is, they are going to be eating more sugar than they need.’
In a bid to make it easier for parents to shop better for their little ones, mums and dads will be offered money-off coupons for healthier nibbles like malt loaf and drinks with no-added sugar.
Supermarket giants Tesco and Co-op are also both backing Change4Life and will offer information in stores and online.