Limit kids' snacking to two a day, urges United Kingdom health agency

Lester Mason
January 12, 2018

Children's snacking habits are setting them up for obesity and poor health, Public Health England has warned, calling on parents to take a tougher line on candies and cakes and fizzy drinks between meals.

On average, children are consuming at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, leading them to consume three times more sugar than is recommended.

It's because children are consuming more than the recommended amount which 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 a day.

"The true extent of children's snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar", said Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist, PHE.

Comparing US data from 1989 to 2006, one study of snack consumption among kids aged two to 18 found that consumption of snacks that were sweet (cakes, cookies, pies, bars, ice cream, and gelatin desserts) and salty (crackers, chips, popcorn, and pretzels) increased significantly from 22% to 27% of daily calories over that period.

Under the agency's ongoing Change4Life programme - the healthy-eating campaign first launched in 2008 - Public Health England is encouraging parents to look for "100 calorie snacks, two a day max" to help them buy healthier snacks.

The new Change4Life campaign encourages parents to "look for 100 calorie snacks, 2 a day max".


As part of the campaign, some supermarkets will take steps to encourage parents to make healthier choices.

Each year, says PHE, children are eating an average of 400 biscuits, 120 cakes and buns and almost 70 each of ice-creams and chocolate bars - all washed down with 150 juice pouches or cans of fizzy drink. Tooth extraction is the most common cause of hospital admissions in children aged five to nine years.

Under the new guidelines, numerous snacks children consume regularly are considered high in sugar and calories, including Mars' single-serve chocolates that contain 229 calories each, even though it reduced the calorie content from the original 260 calories per bar a few years ago.

Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said:"The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mind-blowing, and it can often be hard to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren't".

Of course, a raft of snacks would fall foul of the "100 calorie snacks, two a day max" advice, though it remains just that: advice, not a ban as a typically immature front page from The Sun newspaper had it this morning. It can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. Work to reduce calories in popular products is due to start in 2018.

Justine Roberts, chief executive and founder of Mumsnet, said: "The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mind blowing, and it can often be hard to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren't".

It is hoped that a healthier attitude to snacking could help tackle the childhood obesity epidemic, which is seeing a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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