A national survey of diets has shown that children aged four to ten, along with adults are eating twice the amount of sugar they should be, whilst teenagers are eating three times as much. Eating too much sugar can lead to concentration issues, diabetes type 2, heart disease and tooth decay, yet sugar is in everything.

Change4Life says that it is ok to eat fruit and vegetables with sugar in because the sugar occurs naturally and the food has other health benefits, but we should try to avoid added sugars, including honey, syrups, fruit juice and nectars. There are some simple things that can be done to reduce sugar from children’s diets, here are a few ideas:

Cut out Fizzy Drinks and Juices – Sugar Smart is issuing a challenge to remove fizzy drinks form your diet due to the portion of sugar per can. For example, there are 35g of sugar in a standard sized 330ml can of coke and even Capri Sun has 9.8g in a standard 200ml carton. Although juices are healthy, they do have sugar in them, Change4Life recommends only drinking 150mls of juice a day.

Healthy Ice Cream – Experiment with making your own ice cream with fruit. Freeze some fruit and then use a blender to make the ice cream, this guarantees that there will be no added sugar.

Low Sugar Yogurts/ Plain Yogurt with Fruit – Reduced fat yogurts and flavoured yogurts sometimes contain way more sugar, find yogurts low in sugar, or try adding fruit to a plain yogurt.

Healthy Lunch Boxes – Pre-made, processed food seems easier but usually contains a high sugar count. Making your own could help reduce the amount of sugar eaten, Change4Life suggests that the base to any lunchbox should be either bread, wraps, rice, pasta or potatoes, choosing wholegrain wherever possible. Fruit and vegetables should be included in every lunch. Unhealthy snacks such as chocolate bars can be exchanged for malt loaf or low sugar yogurts.

Breakfast Cereals – Cereals are often filled with sugar. Oats could be a good swap as they can be used in different ways and can be made more interesting with the addition of fruit. Try making porridge, overnight oats, oat bars and flapjacks, etc.

A rough guide to the maximum amount of sugar a child should eat is below:

Age Maximum Recommended Sugar Intake Per Day Teaspoons
Below four Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and foods with added sugar  
Four to Six 19g 5
Seven to Ten 24g 6
Eleven Upwards (Inc. Adults) 30g 7

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