The NHS recently issued guidelines, suggesting a child aged between four and six has a maximum of 19g of sugar a day, however research has found that these guidelines are regularly being exceeded by a shocking amount.
Based on English school children’s diets, the study discovered that on average, children are consuming around 75g of sugar a day, which is equal to approximately 19 teaspoons – four times the maximum daily intake that is advised.
Fizzy drinks, fruit juice and smoothies make up 40% of the daily tally, which means that they are a bigger source of sugar than foods such as cakes, sweets and chocolate.
A can of coke contains 35g of sugar, while Ribena Blackcurrant has a whopping 50g per 500ml bottle and a 200ml glass of orange juice contains 16g of sugar.
The average intake of sugar for a child was 74.6g, which makes up 18% of a child’s calorie intake.
The research, which was undertaken by Birmingham and Leeds University, asked the parents of more than 1000 five and six year olds in the West Midlands to log what their child/children had eaten in a 24 hour period. While the participants were in a small area of the country, researches believe that their food habits are typical of children across the country.
In Britain today, nearly a quarter of children are overweight. Some are even having to have teeth removed as they are in such bad condition due to a high sugar diet.
The main source of sugar in a child’s diet is fizzy drinks, squash and fruit juice. It appears that many parents give their children fruit juice under the impression that it is a healthier option, however the sugar in fruit acts the same way a sugary fizzy drink would on the body once the fruit is juiced.
Professor Adab (who was involved in the study) has warned people that a high sugar diet can not only cause obesity, but being overweight can lead to bullying and emotional problems, which can affect them not only at the time, but later in life.
She has called schools to pay more attention to what children are eating at breaks and lunch times by monitoring the contents of lunch boxes and asked parents not to think of sugary food and drink as staples in a diet, but as occasional treats.
With the impending sugar tax on soft drinks, Professor Adab said ‘There is evidence that it could reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks but what we don’t know is whether it will result in people compensating by eating other things that were just as bad for them.”