Most people in the UK consume too much sugar. In light of this, the government has recently published new guidelines to try to reduce our intake of sugary foods.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), a committee of independent experts who advise the Government on nutrition issues, recommends that we reduce our intake of free sugars in the diet.

So what are free sugars?

Free sugars are sugars added to foods and drinks by:

  • A food manufacturer
  • A cook or chef in a restaurant
  • By you, if you add sugar to your drink or food like cereals.

Free sugars also include:

  • Honey
  • Syrups
  • Unsweetened fruit juice

How much free sugar can children have in their diet?

Did you know: many foods and drinks that contain free sugars are often high in energy (calories), such as energy drinks and iced buns. If children eat too many foods that are high in energy it can lead to obesity, which is a serious health concern in the UK. Consuming too much free sugar can also increase the risk of poor dental health.

The highest contributors to free sugar in the diet of 4 to 10 year olds are:

•       30% from drinks (including 16% from soft drinks)

•       29% mainly from biscuits, cakes and breakfast cereals

•       22% from sweets, chocolate, table sugar, jams and other sweet spreads

•       12% from yoghurts, fromage frais, ice-cream and other dairy desserts.

(Based on Kantar data 2014).

Do remember: Sugars found naturally in foods are not classed as free sugars and are not a cause for concern. For example, sugars in plain milk, plain yoghurt, whole fruit and veg (fresh, frozen or canned) and cheese.

Sugar at breakfast time

Cereal - Choosing the right breakfast cereal for your child can be really tricky and we need to remember that not all cereals are good options to have every day because some contain high levels of sugar.

Sugary cereals can be swapped for:

·       Porridge with chopped berries

·       Whole wheat biscuits

·       Other low sugar cereals such as Rice Snaps, Malt Wheats and Cornflakes.

Top tip: Try mixing a sugary cereal with a low sugar cereal – to gradually wean your child off the sugary cereal.

Fruit and vegetables - Although fruit and veg contain sugar you don’t need to worry about giving your child this type of sugar because:

·       Fruits and vegetables naturally contain a range of other nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and fibre which are more beneficial to your child

·       Having fruit for breakfast is a great way of getting your 5 A DAY

·       Having fruit or vegetables as part of a meal reduces the risk of harmful exposure to the sugars within the food.

Did you know: There is twice as much fibre in a whole fruit compared to fruit juice.