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Half the sugar children consume comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks

Date published: 02 January 2018


Parents are being encouraged to choose 100 calorie snacks instead of unhealthier options and keep them to a maximum of just two a day.

Figures show that half of children’s sugar intake, currently around seven sugar cubes a day, comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks, leading to obesity and dental decay.

Recent data show 23.9% of four to five-year-olds are overweight or obese in the North West, increasing to 35.2% in 10 to 11-year-olds.

Each year children across England are consuming almost 400 biscuits, nearly 100 portions of sweets and more than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.

A new campaign, Change4Life, encourages parents to 'look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day maximum' to help them purchase healthier snacks.

Parents will be signposted and given special offers on a range of healthier snacks, including fruit and vegetables at selected supermarkets. They can also get money-off vouchers to help them try healthier snack options, including malt loaf, lower sugar fromage frais, and drinks with no added sugar.

Many of the unhealthy snacks children consume regularly are high in sugar and also typically high in calories, for example:

  • An ice-cream contains around 175 calories
  • A packet of crisps contains around 190 calories
  • A chocolate bar contains around 200 calories
  • A pastry contains around 270 calories 

The '100 calorie snacks, two a day maximum' tip applies to all snacks apart from fruit and vegetables, as children should also be encouraged to eat a variety of these to achieve their five a day.

Steve Morton, from Public Health England (PHE) North West, said: “Changing our children’s snacking habits can be a real challenge and we want to make it easier for families to find healthier options. By asking parents to Look for 100 calories snacks, two a day maximum, we are helping them to give heathier snacks, while giving them less frequently.”

PHE is working with the food industry nationally to cut 20% of sugar from the products children consume most by 2020, with work to reduce calories due to start in 2018.

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