Council supports childhood health campaign

File picture
File picture

St Helens Council has welcomed a new campaign by Public Health England (PHE) – encouraging parents in St Helens to ‘Be Food Smart’ and take control of their children’s diets.

The campaign has launched following findings that children eat half their 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 five cubes of sugar for four to six-year-olds and no more than six cubes for seven to 10-year-olds per day.

Recent reports show that childhood obesity in England has reached alarming rates. Estimated figures show that more than one in four children aged four and five and more than one in three 10 and 11-year-olds in St Helens have an unhealthy weight for their age and height.

Some of the main sources of sugar at breakfast time include sugary cereals, drinks, and spreads. Away from the breakfast table, children are also eating 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.

PHE’s 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 eat.

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.

Coun Richard McCauley, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “The latest child obesity figures for St Helens show just how important it is for families to know what they are putting on their plates.

“The Be Food Smart App will take some of the pressure off parents and help them to 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 or obese and developing tooth decay.