Children consume 'three times more sugar' than recommended
Half the sugar consumed by children comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks, according to a health watchdog.
On average, children are consuming at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming four or more. This means that children can easily consume three times more sugar than is recommended.
Now a new campaign launched in the UK encourages parents to "Look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max," to help them offer healthier snacks in a bid to tackle the obesity epidemic that results in one-third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese.
Half of children's sugar intake, currently around seven sugar cubes a day, comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks, leading to obesity and dental decay, according to Public Health England (PHE).
This is while the recommended daily maximum is no more than five cubes of sugar for four to six-year-olds and no more than six cubes for seven to 10-year-olds per day.
Each year children are consuming almost 400 biscuits, more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries, around 100 portions of sweets and nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams - washed down with more than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.
Healthier suggestions for snacks and drinks while at home and on the go include fresh or tinned fruit salad, chopped vegetables and lower-fat hummus, plain rice cakes, crackers, malt loaf or crumpets.
PHE said its new advice applied to all snacks apart from fruit and vegetables, as children should still be encouraged to eat a variety of these to achieve their five a day.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: "The true extent of children's snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they're concerned.
"To make it easier for busy families, we've developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking - look for 100 calories snacks, two a day max."
Dr Tedstone added that with an average ice cream containing around 175 calories, a packet of crisps around 190 calories, and a pastry around 270 calories, the amount eaten throughout the day by children and adults alike can add up.