The Change4Life healthy eating campaign in the United Kingdom has released Sugar Smart, a free app that scans the barcodes of more than 75,000 food and beverage products and reports the amount of sugar they have in both cubes and grams.
“Children are having too much sugar, 3 times the maximum recommended amount,” said Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for Public Health England. “This can lead to painful tooth decay, weight gain, and obesity.”
In 2013, 31% of 5-year-olds and 46% of 8-year-olds in the United Kingdom had tooth decay, which was the most common cause of hospital admission for 5- to 9-year-olds. Also, a fifth of 4- to 5-year-olds and a third of 10- to 11-year-olds are overweight or obese.
The recommended daily maximum sugar intake for 4- to 6-year-olds is 19 grams, or 5 sugar cubes. For 7- to 10-year-olds, it is 24 grams or 6 sugar cubes. For children 11 and older, it is 30 grams or 7 sugar cubes.
Meanwhile, a chocolate bar has 6 cubes of sugar, a small juice carton or pouch has more than 5 cubes, and a can of cola has 9 sugar cubes, all meeting or exceeding daily recommendations in a single serving.
“Our easy to use app will help parents see exactly where the sugar in their children’s diet is coming from, so they can make informed choices about what to cut down on,” said Tedstone.
The app also lets users share a “sugar reveal” with friends and family, while linking to hints and tips for cutting down sugar on the Change4Life website. Participating supermarkets include Tesco, Aldi, Morrison’s, the Co-operative Food, and Asda.