Torbay’s Public Health Team is supporting a new Change4Life campaign launched by Public Health England which encourages parents to cut down the amount of sugar their children consume by making one or more simple swaps.

Eating and drinking too much sugar means extra calories, which causes fat to build up inside the body. This can lead to heart disease, some cancers or type 2 diabetes later in life.

Sugar can also have a devastating impact upon dental health, an integral part of overall health. Tooth decay was the most common reason for hospital admissions for children aged five to nine in 2012-13.

28% of 5 year olds in England have tooth decay and of these, 24% have five or more teeth affected. When children are not healthy this affects their ability to learn, thrive and develop.

Across Devon a high percentage of children start school either overweight or obese, which only increases by the time they are in their last year of primary school. New data reveals 32% (6,161 children) in their last year of primary school in Devon.

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 increasing need to address children’s diet and limit future health problems.

  • In Devon, 23.4% (1,624) children start school either overweight or obese, which then becomes 30.3% (1,982) for those in their last year of school
  • In Torbay, 25.2% (327) children start school either overweight or obese, which then becomes 35.5% (413) for those in their last year of school

While guidelines state that no more that 10% of a person’s daily energy or calorie intake should be made up of sugar, at present, 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.

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[vi] and two thirds of mums (67%) are worried about the amount of sugar their children consume6 .

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

Chris Lewis, Executive of Health and Wellbeing said: “Reducing sugar intake is important for the health of our children both now and in the future. We are all eating too much sugar and the impact this has on our health is evident.

“This campaign is about taking small steps to address this. We know from past campaigns that making simple swaps works and makes a real difference.

“Simple swaps could lead to big changes if sustained over time and we’d urge parents to try one more simple swap in January and beyond.”

Change4Life Sugar Swaps is supported by Asda, Tesco, Co-op, Aldi, Coca-Cola (Diet Coke and Coke Zero), Morrisons, mySupermarket, and the Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA).

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, families just need to search Change4Life and register.

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Issued by PHE South West Press Office, 2 Rivergate, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6EH. For further information, please contact 0117 968 9162. For out of hours enquiries, please contact 07717 447 360. Follow us on Twitter: @PHE_AGW, @PHE_DCS, @PHE_uk.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Change4Life Sugar Swaps, recipes and images are available on request from the PHE press office or via the Change4Life website.
  2. The Change4Life Sugar Swaps campaign will launch on 5 January 2015 and will continue until March 2015.
  3. 50 families took part in the PHE, Netmums and University of Reading Family Sugar Challenge, 26 of which were initially identified as potential high sugar consumers. The diets of these 50 families were analysed in terms of sugar content both before and during the Change4Life Sugar Swaps campaign, Oct 23-4 Dec 2014. This is an early analysis and full results are expected in due course.
  4. PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. It does this through advocacy, partnerships, world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. www.gov.uk/phe. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk. 

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