FSAS report urges fewer cakes, biscuits and pastries

By Linda Rano

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food

A new report published by the Scottish Food Standards Agency urges
children to reduce the amount of cakes and biscuits they are
eating, warning that they currently have too much sugar in their
diets.

The Survey of Sugar Intake Among Children in Scotland​ concluded that Scottish children, aged three to sixteen, are eating too much sugar and that the main sources included cakes and biscuits, as well as soft drinks and confectionery. It recommends: "measures need to be taken to reduce the high intake of the mains sources of Non Milk Extrinsic Sugars (NMES) identified in this survey​". NMES are sugars added to food and drink, table sugar and those sugars present in fruit juices. The report highlights the need for bakery and snacks producers to keep developing healthier alternatives, especially since manufacturers who produce healthier, less sugary alternatives are likely to be looked on more favourably by decision makers. Health Minister Shona Robinson said: "we are actively working on policies to encourage youngsters to make healthier choices​." FSAS Assistant Director Jim Thomson said that on-going activities to reduce the sugar intake amongst children included working with the food industry on reformulation of recipes and introducing front-of-pack nutrition labelling. The survey was also designed to track progress towards the Scottish Dietary Target which stipulates that less than 10 per cent of total calories consumed should be NMES. The average NMES consumption level was found to be 17.4 per cent of calorie intake, with intakes highest in older children and for children living in less affluent areas. The survey also suggested that NMES intake was higher in children who had been treated for dental decay - 18.5 per cent compared with 16.1 per cent for those who had not received treatment. The survey added: "Children who had received treatment for decay had significantly higher intakes of biscuits, cakes and pastries, confectionery, crisps and savoury snacks, and non-diet soft drinks than children who had never received treatment for decay​." There was no evidence of a difference in average consumption between children who were overweight and those who were not. However the survey recognised that this might be due to the children eating less at the time of the study or under-reporting what they ate. Some specific findings ​Over 95 per cent of children reported consuming foods including bread (excluding wholemeal) biscuits, cakes, pastries, crisps and savoury snacks at least once a month. 59 per cent of children reported consuming wholemeal bread at least once a month. Younger children were more likely to consume wholemeal bread. Older children were more likely to consume potato products, nuts and seeds. Those living in less deprived areas were more likely to consume wholemeal bread. Children in more deprived areas derived a higher proportion of energy from crisps and savoury snacks than children in the less deprived areas. Food groups contributing to the highest proportion of total energy intake were biscuits, cakes, pastries and bread (excluding wholemeal). Non-diet soft drinks were the major contributors of NMES along with biscuits, cakes, pastries and confectionery. There were significant differences and a linear association between deprivation and the contribution of processed meats, crisps and savoury snacks to the intake of total fat and saturated fatty acids. The intake of these foods increased with increasing deprivation. The survey report concluded that to "significantly improve the diets of children inScotland, intakes of non-diet soft drinks, biscuits, cakes, pastries and confectionery need to be severely restricted​." Fieldwork was conducted during 2006 and comprised face-to-face interviews with 1,700 children. The survey was conducted by the Scottish Centre for Social Research, the University of Aberdeen, the Rowett Research Institute and King's College, London.

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