Half the sugar children consume comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks

  • New Change4Life campaign encourages parents to “Look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max” to cut children’s sugar intake.

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

This is because half of children’s sugar intake, currently around 7 sugar cubes a day[1], comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks[i], leading to obesity and dental decay.

Each year children are consuming almost 400 biscuits; more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries; around 100 portions of sweets; nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams; washed down with over 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.1

On average, children are consuming at least 3 unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming 4 or more.1 The overall result is that children consume three times more sugar than is recommended. [ii]

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

Selected supermarkets are supporting the campaign. As part of their wider work promoting good health, Tesco will help parents - instore and online - choose affordable, healthier snacks that are 100 calories or less. Co-op will also provide tasty and healthy snacking products, making it easier for customers to make healthier choices on the go.

Parents can also get money-off vouchers from Change4Life to help them try healthier snack options, including malt loaf, lower sugar fromage frais, and drinks with no added sugar.

Many of the unhealthy snacks children consume regularly are high in sugar and also typically high in calories, for example:

  • An ice-cream contains around 175 calories
  • A pack of crisps contains around 190 calories
  • A chocolate bar contains around 200 calories
  • A pastry contains around 270 calories[iii]

The “100 calorie snacks, two a day max” tip applies to all snacks apart from fruit and vegetables, as children should also be encouraged to eat a variety of these to achieve their 5 A Day.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “The true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they’re concerned.

“To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking – Look for 100 calories snacks, two a day max.”

Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said: “The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mind blowing, and it can often be difficult to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren't.

“This rule of thumbfrom Change4Life will help parents make healthier choices, which can only be a good thing."

PHE’s improved Change4Life ‘Food Scanner’ app also shows parents how many calories, sugar, salt and saturated fat is in their food to help make healthier choices easier. It can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

With a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese3, tackling obesity requires wider action and is not just limited to individual efforts from parents. PHE is working with the food industry to cut 20% of sugar from the products children consume most by 2020, with work to reduce calories due to start in 2018.

[1] The recommended daily maximum is no more than 5 cubes of sugar for 4- to 6-year-olds and no more than 6 cubes for 7- to 10-year-olds per day.

[i] Secondary Analysis of National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) rolling programme years 5&6 combined): https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/ndns-results-from-years-5-and-6-combined

[ii] NDNS: results from Years 5&6 (combined) https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/ndns-results-from-years-5-and-6-combined

[iii] Average calorie content of ice-cream, crisps, chocolate, and pastry calculated using:

  • McCance and Widdowson's the Composition of Foods: Seventh Summary Edition, Public Health England, Food Standards Agency, 2014
  • Food Portion Sizes(MAFF Handbook), 3 edition, Food Standards Agency, 2002
  • Kantar Worldpanel Data, 2017

Contact information

Jamie Mills
020 765 48039



Editors Notes

Additional contact - Jessica Hampton / hampton@freuds.com / 07949 171217

About the Change4Life campaign

  1. The campaign has been designed to provide practical advice to families to help them choose snacks that are healthier than the ones they are currently purchasing. It does not reflect a change to official government advice.
  2. The Change4Life website and other campaign collateral will provide parents with healthier suggestions for snacks and drinks while at home and on-the-go, such as: fresh or tinned fruit salad; chopped vegetables and lower fat hummus; plain rice cakes; crackers; malt loaf; lower fat cheese; small low-fat, lower sugar yoghurt; sugar free jelly; crumpets; and Scotch pancakes.
  3. Parents can sign up to Change4Life for money-off vouchers: https://www.nhs.uk/change4life
  4. The campaign will run from Tuesday 2nd January 2018 across England for 8 weeks and will be supported with an exciting new TV and radio advert, out of home and digital advertising, social media, partnerships and nationwide roadshows.
  5. The C4L Food Scanner app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.
  6. Please use the following link to download all campaign assets including the TV advert and campaign imagery: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gsvbqtbbk33esul/AACvXFgIakSTcQjeKxrygDCXa?dl=0
  7. The campaign will include an exciting new TV ad made by Aardman animations, radio and digital ads, plus social media and outdoor advertising. Additionally, 3.6 million leaflets will be made available to families via primary schools, with information on healthier snacking and encouraging them to sign up for more helpful tips, ideas and special offers from Change4Life. Teachers will be able to download free new teaching resources to help pupils learn about healthy eating and snacking from the The School Zone.





01788 575050


The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.

BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.

Visit www.bsdht.org.uk for more information.

There are currently no comments

Please log in to leave comments

If you are not yet a member you can register here: Member Registration