Dubbed as sweet poison, sugar is far more addictive than cocaine but there is a way to curb its cravings – by monitoring and limiting the daily intake. Public Health England (PHE) has just launched a smartphone app – Sugar Smart App – that helps you scan the barcode of over 75, 000 everyday foods and drinks, giving you the exact amount of sugar present in them.
The app can be downloaded for free from the iTunes Store or Google Play. It also gives you the salt and saturated fat count as well as tips to cut down their intake.
Sugar has become the staple ingredient of our meals; barely can we get through the day without adding sugar to our diet. We are a generation that revolves around a sugar crystal.
An average Briton consumes about 238 spoons of sugar per week; children even more. Of all the age groups hooked to sugar, children are the biggest consumers, and by far, the biggest victims of the toxic white poison.
Data analysis by the PHE revealed earlier that children aged 4-10 are consuming more than three times the recommended amount of sugar in their diet; a high percentage of which comes from their breakfast.
“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.” said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist, Public Health England.
“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 drinking options for their children.”
PHE urges parents to be food smart and has launched Change4Life campaign educating parents about how to take control of their children’s diets.
Change4Life is a flagship program launched in 2015 that encourages parents to swap sugar for healthy foods because a recent survey has shown that mothers are worried about the excessive sugar intake by their children.
Eating and drinking too much sugar wreaks havoc on children’s health. It is giving them tooth cavity and obesity. In 2012-2013, tooth decay accounted for most of the hospital admissions in children aged five to nine. Obesity in return can lead to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.
Childhood obesity has reached alarming rates in England; at least one in five children entering primary school is overweight or obese. Children who are overweight or obese in their childhood are likely to grow into plus-sized adults.
Amid this sugar rush, the free Sugar Smart app is a solace for parents seeking to cut down sugar in their child’s diet. The app works by scanning the barcode of sugary foods and drinks, allowing a comparison between different products.
It also hands out tips on cutting down sugar and features mini-missions to engage and educate the whole family. PHE’s Change4Life backs the Sugar Smart app. PHE also plans to distribute 500,0000 Sugar Smart packs to children and their families.
How Much Sugar Is Safe For Your Child?
The recommended daily sugar intake varies with age, and it is about five sugar cubes for children aged four to six; six sugar cubes for children aged seven to ten; and seven sugar cubes for children aged eleven and above.
Sugar is everywhere. Despite being aware of its toxicity, it’s hard to avoid it. Breakfast is the time when we, and our children, consume the highest amount of sugar.Breakfast food items such as cereals, spreads and drinks are rich with sugar.
Not many parents are aware that a small pack of juice contains up to five cubes of sugar; a cola can has nine.Your child, aged four to 10, is consuming more than 5500 sugar cubes (22 kg) a year.
What’s more is that parents are unaware of the sugar poisoning. In fact, most of them believe their children’s breakfast is healthy.
In an online Change4Life survey, 84% of the parents thought their children were consuming a healthy breakfast when the children were actually consuming three to four sugar cubes at breakfast.
Children’s temptation to consume sugar starts with the dawn of the sun and continues through the day in the form of biscuits, muffins, soft drinks, chocolates and ice creams, all of which contribute to an unhealthy diet and susceptibility towards obesity.
Sugar should not make more than 10% of your daily calorie intake. Change4Life recommends sugar swap steps for mothers to cut down on sugar consumption of their children.
These include: swapping sugary cereals for plain cereal; sugary drinks for sugar-free drinks at breakfast; muffin for fruited teacake, and ice cream for low-sugar yoghurt.