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You are what you eat
In the past 7 years salt intake in British diets has decreased by 15%, in a campaign initiated by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH). This was championed by the FSA, the government’s food safety body and was greatly enabled aided by manufacturers and leading food retailers.
The key to the success has been the manufacturer’s willingness to reformulate key foods staples such as bread and cereals as well as pre-prepared foods.
The success of CASH has now prompted a move to tackle sugar intake with the launch in January 2014 of Action on Sugar. Health experts claim that rising type 2 diabetes & obesity levels will cause the NHS to implode due to the budget pressures caused by these illnesses. 2012/13 figures published by Public Health England show that 18.9% of children in Year 6 (aged 10-11) were obese and a further 14.4% were overweight.
So as a parent how guilty are we of letting our children indulge in excessive salts & sugars?
I am sure I’m not the only parent guilty of letting kids indulge in the occasional sweet snack, especially at the weekends. During the week they will probably have fewer opportunities at the end of the day, but come weekends and holidays they will certainly be snacking across the day.
Whilst some may be healthy, in the form of fruit or dried fruit, other snacks in the form of brunch bars (probably not that healthy), biscuits or sweets like gummy bears are less so. One saving grace is our kids, three and seven, don’t do fizzy drinks, which is a blessing when a can of coke contains up to 35g or around 9 teaspoons of sugar. That said whether its rewarding good behaviour or just crumbling under pester power, like many parents all too regularly I will reach for the sweet cupboard or biscuit jar to indulge the kids!
As seen in salt there is a need to reduce sugar in our diets, to slowly “wean” us off our favourite sweet foods and for that we once again need manufacturers buy in. For manufacturers, as seen in salt reformulation, the cost runs in to millions of pounds, and will take years of investment and buy in from consumers.
Whilst manufacturers are certainly already helping in reformulating and portion size, yes our favourite chocolate bars have got smaller, it’s not just that we’ve grown up in size; ultimately as parents we are the ones who need to be responsible for what we eat and our kid’s diets.
As the old adages say “you are what you eat” and “everything in moderation”.