Halloween – The Festival of Sugar?
Over a year the average child consumes a whopping 5543 sugar cubes worth of sugars. That’s 22 bags of sugar, more than the average weight of a five-year-old child in the UK. This habitual over-consumption leads to toothaches and fillings (a positive for the dentist but not for the parent paying the bill!), with thousands of children every year ending up in hospital for dental operations. Too much sugar can lead to the harmful build up of fat inside our children’s bodies that we can’t see, and that can lead to serious diseases as they grow older including type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and even heart disease.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for PHE, said: “Children are having too much sugar, three times the maximum recommended amount. This can lead to painful tooth decay, weight gain and obesity, which can also affect children’s well-being as they are more likely to be bullied, have low self-esteem and miss school.”
Obesity currently costs the NHS £5.1 billion each year and the figure is expected to rise to £9.7 billion by 2050.
UK government scientists recently halved the recommended level of added sugar people should eat each day.
And the World Health Organization has also said people should aim to get just 5% of their daily calories from the sweet stuff.
But calculating how much sugar our children will eat is not as simple as it sounds.
In 2012, 21 per cent of our resident population (58,600 people) was aged 0-19 years, lower than the regional and national averages (24 per cent each)
The number of children and young people is predicted to reach 62,000 by 2021, an increase of 5.8 per cent over the 2012 figure, although the same proportion as now
If every one of these children takes home just 5 of your average trick-or-treat sweets, then the total amount of sugar consumed on Halloween racks in at a whopping 10,974,000g of sugar and upwards of 74,400,000 calories!
Children in the UK already consume far above the recommended amount of sugar, with children in the 4-10 bracket and teenagers in the 11-18 bracket ranking highest across the age ranges covered.
Most of this sugar consumption comes from soft drinks, with cereals, cakes, and biscuits coming in a close second, and with sweets, sugars, and jams coming third.
Our habits for sugar consumption has been increasingly linked with a rise in obesity in the UK which has concurrently increased the strain on the NHS.