Childhood obesity is a growing cause for concern, especially in the United States, where 1 in 3 children is overweight. Over in England the same problem is occurring. A recent study of national survey data conducted by Public Health England, shows that children are consuming half of the maximum recommended amount of sugar at breakfast.
Results of the study – based on the government-funded National Diet and Nutrition Survey – reveal that on average children consume 11g of sugar (around 3 sugar cubes) at breakfast in the shape of sugary cereals, drinks, and spreads. The recommended daily maximum is no more than 5 sugar cubes for 4-6 year olds, and no more than 6 sugar cubes for 7-10 year olds. The study, based on a representative survey of 1000 people, shows that by the end of the day, children under 10 have consumed more than three times the recommended amount.
UK researchers last year analyzed the sugar content in fruit juices, smoothies and shakes marketed directly at children. They discovered that over 40% of those products contained 19g of sugars. While those items are considered ‘healthy’, because of their fruit content the amount of sugars in them greatly exceeds the recommended maximum.
In an attempt to increase awareness, Public Health England is introducing a barcode scanning app called Be Food Smart. It allows parents and children to scan food items for their sugar, salt and saturated fat content.
“Children have far too much sugar, and a lot of it is before their first lesson of the day,” said Alison Tedstone, PHE’s chief nutritionist. “It’s crucial for children to have a healthy breakfast, but we know the mornings in a busy household can be fraught. 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 drink options for their children.”
Avoiding breakfast altogether is strongly discouraged as well; recent studies show that skipping the first meal of the day is yet another step toward childhood obesity. So what’s the solution? Introducing breakfast items that contain less sugary items (naturally occurring sugar, added sugar and sugar from carbohydrates) and more protein and good fats. The Be Food Smart site recommends recipes such as traffic light omelettes and scrambled eggs, mushrooms and peppers. These are both excellent suggestions that pack in plenty of protein and much less sugar than cereals, muffins, pastries and similar items.
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