Warnings about about the health risks posed by sugar have failed to curb consumption, with children aged four to 10 eating and drinking more than double the recommended amount, according to Public Health England (PHE) figures.
Britons are advised that sugar should account for no more than 5% of daily calories, but from 2012-14, the average was 13.4% for those aged between four and 10, 15.2% among 11- to 18-year-olds, 12.3% for adults under 65 and 11.1% for those aged 65 and over, the national diet and nutrition survey (NDNS) found.
Many believe sugar is the biggest contributor to the obesity epidemic crippling the NHS, and the results, published on Friday, reignited criticism of the failure by the government to take a stronger line in its childhood obesity strategy.
The Action on Sugar chairman, Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said: Today’s NDNS data shows that children are still consuming almost three times more sugar than the daily maximum recommendation. Theresa May must urgently rethink her pathetic childhood obesity plan that lacks restrictions on the marketing of, and promotions on, products high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.
The strategy must include the implementation of the soft drinks industry levy and a mandatory reformulation programme, as the failed responsibility deal has already proven that a voluntary system does not work.
The figures showed a drop in the consumption of soft drinks by children aged four to 10, from 130ml a day from 2008-10 to 100ml a day from 2012-14, which helped make the age group the only one in which sugar consumption declined, having stood at 14.4% from 2010-12.
But levels remain unacceptably high, despite attempts to raise awareness of the harmful effects of sugar and the proliferation of healthy eating content on blogs and social media. Last year, the UK’s official nutrition advisers slashed the recommended daily amount of sugar, which had been 11% of calorific intake, in response to rising concerns.
The Obesity Health Alliance and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPH) said the figures underlined the need to protect children from junk food marketing on television and online, one of the most heavily criticised omissions of the obesity strategy published last month.
The RCPH president, Prof Neena Modi, said: At a time when one in three 10-year-old children are overweight or obese, and one in three five-year-olds has tooth decay, the health risks posed by failure to tackle sugar intake are serious.
An overweight or obese child is highly likely to be an overweight or obese adult, increasing the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
An Obesity Health Alliance spokeswoman called for an environment that makes it easier to make healthier choices.
The survey painted a grim picture of the UK’s dietary habits. It found that people consume too much saturated fat and not enough fruit, vegetables, fibre and oily fish, with very few improvements since 2008-10. Additionally, men are eating too much red meat and processed meat, which was ranked alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer by the World Health Organisation last year.
Dr Alison Tedstone, the 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.
The survey was based on responses from 1,288 adults and 1,258 children, drawn from households selected at random.
News Source TheGuardianNews