Sugar intake in children is double daily allowance

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Children are eating twice as much sugar as their recommended daily allowance
Children are eating twice as much sugar as their recommended daily allowance

Related tags: Soft drinks, Nutrition, British soft drinks association

Children between the ages of four and 10 are consuming twice as much sugar as their recommended daily allowance, despite intake from sugar-sweetened soft drinks falling, according to Public Health England (PHE) figures.

Sugar made up 13.4% of daily calories for four to 10-year-olds on average, and 15.2% among 11 to 18-year-olds, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) revealed. The recommended daily calories intake for sugar should not exceed 5%, according to PHE.

The survey – which used results from 1,288 adults and 1,258 children from the years 2013 and 2014 – also found that only 8% of people aged 11 to 18 consumed the recommended five portions a day of fruit and vegetables. Less than a third of adults met the five-a-day recommendation.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) recognised that sugar consumption was still too high, despite the decline over a number of years. “We, on average, need to consume a lot more fruit and vegetables, oily fish and fibre and less saturated fat and sugars,”​ an FDF spokesman said.

National Dietary and Nutrition Survey – at a glance

  • 4 to 10-year-olds eat twice the recommended amount of sugar
  • Teenagers get three times more daily calories from sugar than recommended
  • Only 8% of teenagers eat five-a-day portions of fruit and veg

‘We need to consume a lot more fruit and vegetables’

“Food and drink producers are taking steps to help customers towards dietary goals, lowering calories from sugars and fats in their products, capping portion sizes, and adding key nutrients such as iron and fibre.

“We need a national push involving all parties with a stake in improving public health to bring about positive change to whole diets.”

Despite the large consumption of sugar, the amount of sugary drinks consumed dropped by 23% in four to 10-year-olds, compared with the 2008/2010 survey. British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) director general Gavin Partington said he was pleased with the progress made, while acknowledging an improvement still needed to be made.

“We are pleased that the latest NDNS data shows a decline of over 8% in teenagers’ sugar intake from soft drinks between 2012 and 2014,”​ said Partington.

‘Significant action’

“Soft drinks companies have taken significant action to help their consumers reduce their sugar intake since the NDNS data was collected over two years ago. Independent analysis confirms that sugar intake from soft drinks has been reduced by over 16% in the last four years.

“However, we understand there is more to do and only last year we set ourselves a 20% calorie reduction target by 2020.”

Meanwhile, the long-awaited childhood obesity strategy was released last month. It was immediately slammed as “flawed”​ and “fatigued”​ by food and drink manufacturers and retailers.

Retailers said the voluntary reduction of sugar, fats and salt in food and drinks meant businesses would not compete on a level playing field. Whereas, the BSDA said the strategy was unfairly singling out soft drinks.

What they say about the report

  • Food and Drink Federation: “We, on average, need to consume a lot more fruit and vegetables, oily fish and fibre and less saturated fat and sugars. We need a national push involving all parties with a stake in improving public health to bring about positive change to whole diets.
  • British Soft Drinks Association: “We are pleased that the latest NDNS data shows a decline of over 8% in teenagers’ sugar intake from soft drinks between 2012 and 2014. However, we understand there is more to do.”

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