RCPCH responds to new Change4Life campaign

Public Health England (PHE) is helping parents take control of their children’s snacking by launching the first Change4Life campaign promoting healthier snacks.

Half of children’s sugar intake, currently around seven sugar cubes a day, comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks , which leads to obesity and dental decay.

On average, children are consuming at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming four or more. The overall result is that children consume three times more sugar than is recommended.

The new Change4Life campaign encourages parents to “Look for 100 calorie snacks, 2 a day max” to help them purchase healthier snacks than the ones they are currently.

Parents will be signposted and given special offers on a range of healthier snacks, including fruit and vegetables at selected supermarkets. They can also get money-off vouchers to help them try healthier snack options, including malt loaf, lower sugar fromage frais, and drinks with no added sugar.

Responding to the launch of the first Change4Life campaign, Professor Russell Viner, Officer for Health Promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“The UK is facing an obesity epidemic with stats released just last week confirming levels of obesity in England remain stagnant at 28%. This is part of a series of important work PHE are doing relating to childhood obesity and is very timely. We strongly support this campaign and its focus on parents.

“However, whilst reducing the number of snacks a child consumes and the calorie content will be hugely beneficial, this alone will not curb our crisis. We need the Government to show it is serious about tackling obesity by urgently updating and expanding the Childhood Obesity Plan. We also need to create healthier environments by preventing new fast food restaurants opening within close proximity to schools and colleges - we cannot expect children to make healthier food choices when there are temping cheap treats lurking close to school. This combined with today’s new Change4Life campaign may be a catalyst that begins to see our rates of obesity reduce.”