Count the calories and tackle unhealthy snacking

This story was published 15 January 2018

We are supporting a Change4Life campaign to encourage parents to “Look for 100-calorie snacks, two a day max” to help to cut their children’s sugar intake as part of our commitment to tackle childhood obesity.

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On average every year, a child in England consumes nearly 400 biscuits, more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries, about 100 portions of sweets, nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams, all washed down with more than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink. They consume at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with about a third consuming four or more. The overall result is that children have three times more sugar than is recommended.

In North Yorkshire, 21 per cent of four to five-year-olds and 30 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds are living with excess weight. This can influence physical and mental health and reduce healthy life expectancy.

Parents can access special offers and money-off vouchers on a range of healthier snacks, including malt loaf, lower sugar fromage frais, drinks with no added sugar, as well as fruit and vegetables at selected supermarkets, simply by signing up to Change4Life for money-off vouchers at www.nhs.uk/change4life

The Change4Life Food Scanner app also shows parents how many calories and how much sugar, salt and saturated fat is in their food to help to make healthier choices easier. It can be downloaded from the iTunes Store or Google Play.

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Public Health, Prevention and Supported Housing, said: “We want to support parents to take control of their children’s snacking by raising awareness of this important Change4Life campaign, which promotes healthier snacks.

“This is because half of children’s sugar intake – currently around seven sugar cubes a day – comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks, leading to obesity and dental decay. The ‘100-calorie snacks, two a day max’ tip applies to all snacks apart from fruit and vegetables, as children should also be encouraged to eat a variety of these to achieve their five-a-day.”

As part of its wider commitment to tackle childhood obesity, the County Council provides a lifestyle service for children and families called Healthy Choices. This is a free service which provides a bespoke family-focused package of support for children and young people who are above a healthy weight. Each participating family is offered a free 12-week personalised programme in their own home and / or community venues, during which they take part in interactive sessions, complete weekly challenges and set their own goals to help them on their journey towards a healthier lifestyle. 

After completing the programme, families are offered continued support and guidance by motivational phone calls and follow-up appointments, helping them to stay on track.

Cllr Dickinson said: “From portion size guidance and menu planning to physical activity and fitness, the programme is not about telling families what to do, but helping them with the tools and knowledge to make positive, realistic and achievable changes.

“Feedback from families about the Healthy Choices service is overwhelmingly positive. In the words of one family, ‘Go for it! Only good things will come from taking part’.”

Find out more about the Healthy Choices programme here.