Public Health England has launched a new 'Sugar Smart' app to help raise awareness of the dangerous levels of sugar in products consumer by children, causing an array of health problems for today's youth including obesity and diabetes. Parents are being encouraged to sign up for the free app which, by scanning the barcode of products tells you the sugar content of food and drink in cubes or grams, aiming to help parents take control of their children's sugar intake.
The threat to health of being overweight or obese
A fifth of 4–5 year olds and a third of 10–11 year olds are overweight or obese in the UK.
Consuming too much sugar can lead to painful tooth decay, weight gain and obesity. This can also affect children's wellbeing making them more likely to be bullied, have low self-esteem and miss school. Being overweight as a child also increases the chance of the individual being overweight as an adult, putting them at risk of serious health problems including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Chief Nutritionist for Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone, explained: "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'."
As the 'Sugar Smart' app launches, Diabetes UK is highlighting the urgent need for the Government to put a number of measures in place to help tackle the national obesity crisis.
Chris Askew, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: "Diets that are high in sugar are fuelling the rise in obesity, and in turn the dramatic rise in Type 2 diabetes, a serious health condition that can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputations and stroke. This is unlike Type 1 diabetes which cannot be prevented and is not caused by being obese. With the average child consuming three times the recommended daily amount of sugar, the need for action has never been more urgent. The new Sugar Smart app will help parents to understand and take control of their children's sugar intake.
"However, the app alone is not enough to achieve the reduction in sugar intake we need to see across the population. We need to see the Government act on recommendations made by Public Health England, including restricting marketing of unhealthy foods to children, reducing and rebalancing the number of price promotions offered on unhealthy foods, implementing a clear and transparent programme for reformulating unhealthy foods and reducing portion sizes. It must also introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks to reduce consumption. People also need to be supported to undertake regular physical activity and supported to choose healthier foods, including through a clear and consistent food labelling system.
"Until we get better at helping people to live healthy and active lives by taking a number of necessary measures, the rise in obesity will continue to see cases of Type 2 diabetes soar at an alarming rate, costing not only human lives but also crippling the already overstretched NHS."
Find out more on the Diabetes UK website here.