Businesses including cereal manufacturer Weetabix and supermarket chains including Tesco, Aldi, Morrisons and Asda have pledged to support the new Sugar Smart campaign, which launched today (4 January) across England.
In addition to the free app, the campaign - part of the PHE's ongoing Change4Life initiative - will include TV, digital and outdoor advertising, online content and will be fronted by singer and TV presenter Jamelia.
Ages four to six: 19 g (five sugar cubes)
Ages seven to 10: 24 g (six sugar cubes)
Ages 11-plus: 30 g (seven sugar cubes)
Five million Sugar Smart packs will be given away to primary age children via schools and local authorities; a nationwide roadshow will take place across 25 locations from 18 January; and retailers will educate customers about healthier food choices.
The app can reveal the number of 4 g sugar cubes in more than 75,000 everyday food or drink products, said PHE, which gave examples including six cubes in a bar of chocolate and five cubes in a pouch of juice drink.
Users can also share a ‘sugar reveal’ with friends and family through the app.
“Change4Life’s new app is going to help British consumers keep track of their daily sugar consumption, while recommending the types of healthy options that the public should be eating instead of high-sugar alternatives," said Weetabix head of brand Richard Lawrence.
"Weetabix remains one of the most recognized healthy breakfast cereal options in the UK because it is low in sugar, low in salt, high in fiber and fortified with vitamins and iron," he added. "We therefore fully support Change4Life and its efforts and look forward to doing our part in educating the British public on healthy eating throughout 2016."
PHE said the average consumption of non milk extrinsic sugars (such as added sugar) in children four to 10-years-old is 60.7 g a day. This totals 5,543 cubes of sugar per year - or 22 kg – more than the 20.7 g average weight of a five-year-old child in England. A fifth of four to five-year-olds and a third of 10 to 11-year-olds were overweight or obese, stated PHE.
“Children are having too much sugar, three times the maximum recommended amount,” said Public Health England chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone. “This can lead to painful tooth decay, weight gain and obesity.
“Children aged five shouldn’t have more than 19 g of sugar per day,” she added.
“That’s five cubes but it’s very easy to have more. That’s why we want parents to be ‘Sugar Smart’, and our app will help parents see where the sugar in their children’s diet is coming from, so they can make informed choices about what to cut down on.”
PHE is an autonomous executive agency of the UK’s Department of Health designed to ‘protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities’.