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Healthier snacks

Public Health England (PHE) has launched the first Change4Life campaign to promote healthier snacks for children[11]. The new campaign encourages parents to look for ‘100 calorie snacks, two a day max’ to help them purchase healthier snacks for their children.

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. On average, children are consuming at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming four or more. The overall result is that children consume three times more sugar than is recommended.

Some supermarkets are supporting the campaign. Tesco will help parents – instore and online – choose affordable, healthier snacks that are 100 calories or less. Co-op will also provide tasty and healthy snacking products, making it easier for customers to make healthier choices.

PHE’s improved Change4Life ‘Food Scanner’ app also shows parents how many calories, sugar, salt and saturated fat is in their food to help make healthier choices easier. Parents can also get money-off vouchers from Change4Life 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 pack 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 max’ 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 5 A Day.

With a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, tackling obesity requires wider action in addition to individual efforts from parents. PHE is working with the food industry to cut 20% of sugar from the products children consume most by 2020, with work to reduce calories due to start in 2018.

References

11. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-launches-change4life-campaign-around-childrens-snacking

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