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A sugary start to the day

Children consume half their daily recommended sugar intake before the morning school bell rings, according to an analysis of breakfast eating habits by Public Health England (PHE).

On average, kids in England eat 11g of sugar at breakfast, equivalent to almost three sugar cubes. The recommended daily maximum is no more than five cubes of sugar for 4- to 6-year-olds and no more than six cubes for 7- to 10-year-olds per day. On average, children consume more than three times these recommendations, PHE concluded.

“When analysing a number of breakfasts from families across England, we were concerned to see the high amount of free sugars and low amount of fibre in many of these,” explained Sara Stanner, science director at the British Nutrition Foundation.

A survey conducted alongside the new research also showed that in households where children are consuming 11g of sugar in their first meal of the day, the vast majority of parents (84%) considered their child’s breakfast to be healthy.

PHE has therefore launched a new app to help parents compare the nutritional content of products. The tool is part of the £6.3 million “Be Food Smart” campaign being run through PHE’s Change4Life initiative.

Breakfast cereals are one of the nine food categories required to reduce sugar content by 20% as part of the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan.