Public Health England says children are consuming so much sugar at breakfast that they have had half of their daily recommendation before they even get to school, equivalent to almost three sugar cubes on average.
The organisation warns that juices, cereals and other foods high in sugar are damaging to health, and that many parents are unaware of the risks that they can pose – 84 per cent surveyed believed they were giving their children a healthy breakfast.
A study has found that children are consuming more than 11g of sugar or nearly three sugar cubes, on average, just at breakfast; this adds up to more than 1,000 cubes of sugar at breakfast over the course of a year.
One in four five year-old children have tooth decay and one in five children leave primary school overweight.
Sugar is thought to be the primary cause of this, with the National Diet and Nutrition Survey showing that four- to 10-year-olds are consuming twice as much sugar as is recommended.
“Children have far too much sugar, and a lot of it is before their first lesson of the day,” said chief nutritionist at Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone.
“It’s crucial for children to have a healthy breakfast, but we know the mornings in a busy household can be fraught.”
Parents are being urged to download the Change4Life food app, which scans barcodes and reveals the sugar content of food and drink. It can be a very useful tool in fighting rising levels of obesity, tooth decay and type 2 diabetes, in addition to other long-term health problems linked to unhealthy diets.