Health and Wellbeing

‘100-calorie snacks, 2 a day max’ – new campaign targets sugar-laden snacks

Posted on: 10 January 2018

Families in Devon concerned about their children’s sugar intake are being given support and advice by the national public health body Public Health England (PHE), which, for the first time, has issued guidelines specifically addressing snacking.

A new Change4Life campaign, launched this week, aims to promote healthier snacks and give families easy choices to encourage their children to reduce the amount of sugar in their diets.

This is because half of children’s sugar intake – currently around seven sugar cubes a day – comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks, which can lead to obesity and tooth decay.

Recent data from the National Child Measurement Programme shows childhood obesity has reached alarming rates, with the percentage of children in Devon who are overweight or obese children reaching 22.8 in Reception and 29.3 in Year Six.

Each year children are consuming on average almost 400 biscuits; more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries; around 100 portions of sweets; nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams; washed down with over 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.

As part of this diet children consume on average at least three unhealthy snacks or sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming four or more. The overall result is that children have three times more sugar than is recommended.

The new Change4Life campaign encourages parents to “Look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max” to help them purchase healthier snacks.

Supermarkets will display and show special offers on a range of healthier snacks, including fruit and vegetables. Parents can also get money-off vouchers to help them try healthier snack options.

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.

Justine Womack, Childhood Obesity lead for the Health Improvement team at Public Health England, South 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 calorie snacks, two a day max, we’re helping them to give heathier snacks, while giving them less frequently.

“I know as a parent how hard it can be but it really is just a case of swapping unhealthy snacks as much as possible”

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Lead Member for improving health and wellbeing, said: 

“We all know we can make simple adjustments to our diets to improve our own health, but it’s really important that this starts from an early age, as children’s early eating habits will affect their adult lives.

“Changing the type of things we give our children for snacks is a really simple way to cut down on the amount of sugar they’re getting, and is the chance to give them a boost of vitamins through a piece of fruit or veg.

“And there’s lots of support and advice available through the Change4Life website so you’ll never be stuck for ideas, even with the fussiest eaters.”

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. It can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

With a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, tackling obesity requires wider action and is not just limited to individual efforts from parents. 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.

Share your suggestions for 100-calorie healthy snacks, in the comments section here, on Twitter @DevonCC or on our Facebook page.

Posted in: Health and Wellbeing