Children aged 4 to 10 years are consuming more than double the recommended amount of sugar, although consumption of sugary drinks has fallen compared to 6 years ago.
This is according to the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), published today (9 September 2016) by Public Health England (PHE).
Children aged 4 to 10 years drank 100mls of sugary drinks on average in 2012 to 2014, a decrease from 130mls/day in 2008 to 2010. However, sugar makes up 13% of children’s daily calorie intake, while the official recommendation is to limit it to no more than 5%. Worryingly, teenagers continue to consume 3 times the official recommendation for sugar (15%) and adults over twice as much (12%).
The survey also confirms that the UK population continues to consume too much saturated fat and not enough fruit, vegetables and fibre. Average saturated fat intake for adults aged 19 to 64 is 12.7% of daily calorie intake, above the 11% recommendation.
The same age group consume on average 4 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, older adults, aged 65 and over, consume 4.2 portions and children aged 11 to 18 consume 2.8 portions per day. Only 27% percent of adults, 35% of older adults and 8% of 11 to 18-year-olds meet the ‘5 A Day’ recommendation for fruit and vegetables.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said:
“This data provides compelling evidence that we all need to eat more fruit, veg, fibre and oily fish and cut back on sugar, salt and saturated fat to improve our health.
“While it is encouraging that young children are having fewer sugary drinks, they still have far too much sugar in their diet overall, along with teenagers and adults. To help tackle this, PHE is launching a programme to challenge the food industry to remove at least 20% of the sugar in its products by 2020. It’s an ambitious programme, a world first, and will be a significant step on the road to reducing child obesity levels.
“Over one in 3 children leaving primary school and almost 2 in 3 adults are overweight or obese which means they are more prone to developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. This is why the government’s recent Childhood Obesity Plan announced that PHE is to lead a programme to challenge food and drink manufacturers, retailers and the ‘out of home’ sector (like restaurants, cafes and takeaways) to reduce the amount of sugar in their products. This programme will apply to the foods that contribute the most to children’s sugar intakes, including those aimed at babies and infants.”
The data underlines PHE’s call for the population to follow a healthy, balanced diet, based on the new Eatwell Guide, which includes eating a minimum of 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables per day and increasing consumption of oily fish and fibre. Following a healthy, balanced diet and reducing calories will help reduce obesity and the economic and social burden of life-threatening diseases.