A new free Sugar Smart app has been launched to help parents see how much sugar there is in everyday food and drinks.
The free app works by scanning the barcode of products and revealing the amount of total sugar it contains in cubes and grams.
The app is part of a new national campaign, encouraging parents to get “Sugar Smart” and take control of their children’s sugar intake.
Coun Catherine Donovan, Gateshead Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Whilst our level of child obesity is showing an encouraging decrease, Gateshead is still higher than the national average and the number of our children who have tooth decay remains one of the highest in the region.
“Sugar is lurking in everyday food and drink, taking children well over the maximum recommended amount.
“I’m encouraging parents across Gateshead to download the new Sugar Smart app and take control of the amount of sugar their family consumes, to protect them from the health risks of having too much sugar.”
The Change4Life campaign, from Public Health England, follows revelations that four to 10-year-olds consume an estimated 5,500 sugar cubes a year (22kg), weighing the same as an average five-year-old.
Currently, 22.7 per cent of four to five-year-olds are overweight or obese in Gateshead, increasing to 34 per cent in 10 to 11-year-olds.
This means they are more likely to become obese adults who are more prone to a range of serious health problems, such as heart disease, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes, it is reported.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for Public Health England, said: “Children are having too much sugar, three times the maximum recommended amount. This can lead to painful tooth decay, weight gain and obesity, which can also affect children’s well-being, as they are more likely to be bullied, have low self-esteem and miss school.
“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”. Our easy to use app will help parents see exactly where the sugar in their children’s diet is coming from, so they can make informed choices about what to cut down on.”
Sugar also has an impact on children’s dental health. During 2013/14, 261 children in Gateshead, aged 0-19, were treated under general anaesthetic in hospital for the removal of teeth due to tooth decay.
Every primary school in Gateshead, which is part of the School Fruit and Veg Scheme, will receive healthy eating teaching resources in January or early February, and Sugar Smart packs are to be given to school children and their families.
Change4Life has created an eye-opening short film, which warns parents about the health harms of eating and drinking too much sugar, including becoming overweight and tooth decay. The film brings to life the excessive amount of sugar consumed by the average child per year – currently three times more than the new maximum recommended daily amount.
The campaign reveals the sugar content of everyday food and drink; a 43g chocolate bar contains six cubes of sugar, a 200ml juice drink contains over five cubes, and there are nine sugar cubes in a can of cola, instantly taking children up to or over their recommended maximum for the day.
Download the Change4Life Sugar Smart app to find out how much sugar is in the food and drink your family consumes every day and search ‘Change4Life’ for lots of free support, tips, ideas and recipes.