Calls have been made to introduce a "pudding tax" to tackle childhood obesity.
Children in the UK are exceeding the recommended sugar intake of an 18-year-old by the time they reach the age of 10, according to new research.
Public Health England (PHE) said the average 10-year-old has consumed at least 138kg (304lb) of sugar by the time they reach adulthood, based on children’s sugar consumption from the age of two.
PHE gathered data on household eating habits in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the research, which has been released alongside a new Change4Life campaign supporting families in cutting back on sugar.
The recommended maximum amount of sugar for 10-year-olds is 20-24 grammes a day, but new figures show children are consuming an average of 52.2 grammes a day.
This amounts to around eight sugar cubes more than is deemed healthy every day, or 2,800 each year. Pudding tax The government department has called for the introduction of a “pudding tax” on companies if they fail to reduce the amount of sugar in their food products.
And it wants families to take responsibility themselves, too, in a bid to cut soaring child obesity levels, tooth decay, and other illnesses associated with eating too much sugar.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “Children are consuming too much sugar, but parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years.
“To make this easier for busy families, Change4Life is offering a straightforward solution – by making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.”
Sugar intake PHE said the recommended daily maximum amount of sugar for kids age four to six is 19g, or five cubes.
For those aged seven to 10, the figure rises to 24, and then to 30g for children 11 and over. But in the UK, children are consuming some 13 cubes (52g) of sugar a day, according to the organisation, based on the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey results.
Half of the sugar in children’s diets comes from drinks, sweets, cakes, puddings, breakfast cereals, biscuits, and yoghurts, PHE explained.
It has offered advice to parents on the Change4Life website, and highlights manufacturers working to cut down on sugar in their food products.
A new “Good Choice” badge has been launched to help people better identify items without excessive amounts of sugar.
Popular brands – including Nestlé Shredded Wheat, Nestlé Low Sugar Oat Cheerios, Petits Filous and Soreen (malt loaf) – will display the Good Choice badge online, in-store and throughout their advertising.
Customers can also find healthier options in supporting supermarkets, such as Asda and Aldi, as well as in Londis and Budgens convenience stores.
PHE said one third of children leave primary school overweight or obese. In May 2018, the body published progress against the first-year sugar reduction ambition of five per cent, which showed an average two per cent reduction in sugar across categories for retailers and manufacturers.