Parents in Lancashire encouraged to Be Food Smart with launch of new Change4Life campaign

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Public Health England’s (PHE) new campaign is encouraging parents in Lancashire to ‘Be Food Smart’ and take control of their children’s diets by highlighting the surprising amount of sugar, saturated fat and salt found in everyday food and drink.

This follows findings that children consume half the daily recommended sugar intake before the morning school bell rings.

Children in England consume more than 11g of sugar at breakfast time alone, almost 3 sugar cubes. The recommended daily maximum is no more than 5 cubes of sugar for 4 to 6 year-olds and no more than 6 cubes for 7 to 10 year-olds per day. By the end of the day, children consume more than three times these recommendations.

Recent reports show that childhood obesity in England has reached alarming rates. In Lancashire, 1 in 5 (22.6%) 4 to 5 year-olds are overweight or very overweight when they start school, increasing to 1 in 3 (33.3%) 10 to 11 year-olds by the time they leave.

Some of the main sources of sugar at breakfast time include sugary cereals, drinks, and spreads. Away from the breakfast table, children are also consuming too much sugar, saturated fat and salt in items such as confectionery, biscuits, muffins, pastries and soft drinks, which all contribute to an unhealthy diet.

The new Change4Life campaign urges parents to ‘Be Food Smart’ and take more control of their children’s diets. A new “Be Food Smart” app has been developed to highlight just how much sugar, saturated fat and salt can be found in everyday food and drink that their children consume.

The free app helps and encourages families to choose healthier options and works by scanning the barcode of products allowing parents to compare brands, and features food detective activities for children and mini missions the whole family can enjoy.

County Councillor Azhar Ali, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “The latest child obesity figures for Lancashire show just how important it is for families to know what they are putting on their plates.

“Healthy food makes an important contribution to children’s vitamin and mineral intakes and has been linked to many positive health outcomes. I would encourage people to download the Be Food Smart App, which helps parents choose healthier food and drink options for their children.”

The campaign also helps parents identify the health harms of children eating and drinking too much sugar, saturated fat and salt, including becoming overweight and developing tooth decay.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council said: "It's concerning to see the high amount of free sugars and low amount of fibre in many families food choices.

"Our children might seem fine on the outside but too much sugar and saturated fat can lead to the build-up of harmful fat on the inside that we can’t see. This fat around their vital organs can cause weight gain and serious diseases in the future, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or even some cancers. Over time, eating too much salt can also raise our blood pressure putting us at risk of heart disease and stroke."

Tackling obesity is everyone’s responsibility, not just parents. PHE is currently working with retailers, food manufacturers and other organisations in the food industry to reduce the amount of sugar by 20% contained in products children consume. Eight in ten parents (81%) surveyed support this action and believe food manufacturers have a responsibility to reduce sugar in their products.

Find out more about the campaign at or download the new free Be Food Smart app from the iTunes Store or Google Play to get hints and tips to cut down the amount of total sugar, saturated fat and salt in your family’s diet.

*Free sugars include all sugars added to foods plus those naturally present in fruit juices, syrups and honey. It does not include the sugars naturally present in intact fruit and vegetables or milk and dairy products.

Tagged as: Health and Social Care

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