Children consume half the daily recommended sugar intake before the morning school bell rings, according to Public Health England (PHE).
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 have consumed more than 3 times these recommendations.
A survey conducted for PHE's Change4Life campaign found that parents are unsure what makes up a healthy breakfast for their children. It found that of those parents whose child was consuming the equivalent of 3 or more sugar cubes in their breakfast, over 8 in 10 parents (84%) considered their child's breakfast as healthy.
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 These all contribute to an unhealthy diet.
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.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist, Public Health England, said:
Children have far too much sugar, and a lot of it is before their first lesson of the day. It's crucial for children to have a healthy breakfast, but we know the mornings in a busy household can be fraught.
That's why we've developed our Be Food Smart App, taking some of the pressure off parents and helping 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.
Recent reports show that childhood obesity in England has reached alarming rates. More than 1 in 5 children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to more than a third by the time they leave.
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