Swapping just one snack a day for a healthier alternative could cut sugar intake by almost half, a pilot study has found.
Fifty families followed guidelines from Public Health England (PHE) which outlined a series of ways to swap sugary treats for healthier food and drinks.
It follows warnings that children are now consuming up to 50 per cent more than their recommended daily sugar intake, thanks to a heavy reliance on fizzy and soft drinks.
Families were urged to choose from simple swaps such as replacing sugary cereal with a plain wholewheat cereal, giving children yoghurt instead of ice cream for their dessert, and swapping sweet drinks to those with no sugar in them.
Analysis of their diets found that over a month, those following the advice reduced their sugar intake by 40 per cent.
Current guidance advises that no more than 10 per cent of a person’s calorie intake should come from sugar ? which works out at about 50g a day for an adult of normal weight.
On average the families were consuming 438g of sugar at the start of the challenge, which reduced to 287g a day by the end of it. This meant that on average families had almost 200g less sugar each day – the equivalent of 49 sugar cubes.
It comes as a survey, carried out by NetMums, found two-thirds of parents are worried about the amount of sugar in their children’s diets and nearly half believe their family consume too much sugar.
Government data shows that children aged 4-10 get 17 per cent of their daily sugar from soft drinks; 17 per cent from biscuits, buns, cakes, pastries and fruit pies, 14 per cent from confectionery, 13 per cent from fruit juice, and 8 per cent from breakfast cereals.
Last year public health officials said a single small glass of fruit a day was the most anyone should have.
Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at PHE, said: “We are all eating too much sugar and the impact this has on our health is evident.”
“This campaign is about taking small steps to address this. We know from past campaigns that making simple swaps works and makes a real difference.”
He said the public health campaign aimed to be “even more single minded” than previous attempts to encourage improvements in lifestyles, and would only focus on sugar.
“The family challenge highlights that simple swaps could lead to big changes if sustained over time,” he said.
Sugar is one of the key causes of obesity, which can cause heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes in later life.
Experts have also warned that it is continuing to harm children’s teeth, with tooth decay was the most common reason for hospital admissions for children aged five to nine in 2012-13.
Last year the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended that schools should supervise children brushing their teeth in order to tackle the problem.
One in five children in the first year of primary school were classified as overweight or obese, in 2013/14, while over a third of those in the last year of primary school were overweight or obese, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
The Telegraph, London