Childrens Snacking and a Recent School Visit

This month I got the opportunity to join our Dental Therapist, Christina, at a local primary school to give a talk to 8 and 9 year old children about oral hygiene and sugar in snacks. The children completed an activity set out in two parts; the first to divide some pictures of snacks into healthy and unhealthy piles, and secondly take all the unhealthy snack cards and match these with clear bags which contained the amount of sugar in each snack. In particular the children were surprised to learn that one of the savoury cheese baked crisps contained sugar, and how much sugar there was in fruit yogurts. So whilst the children were beginning to gain an understanding of the sugar that may be contained in their diet what can we do on a day to day basis to ensure we aren’t eating over the recommended sugar allowance as set out in government guidelines?

Snacking has become increasingly ingrained in our modern lifestyle, where it is said two thirds of adults have at least one snack a day. In 2014 the sales of sweet and savoury snacks in the UK totalled £5.5billion. The changes in the way we cook, with a reliance on ready meals and take aways, alongside snacking in-between these meals has seen an increase in the amount of sugar we consume on a daily basis. These hidden sugars can be found in surprising items such as; tomato pasta bakes, low fat hummus and falafel wraps and ready made pasta salads, to name a few. Smoothies and juices also contribute to this sugar intake.  As a result Dental Practioners are seeing an increase in children as young as 4 years old with evidence of erosive tooth wear and dental caries.

So what can you do to ensure that you aren’t consuming too much sugar? The government’s Change for Life app can help both young and old become sugar detectives! Providing clear and simple guidance it gives all the information you need to make an informed choice. It also enables you to scan barcodes of products and see how much sugar is contained in a clear and simple format. Grabbing a bite to eat in between meals to keep energy levels up is not a bad thing – it just needs to be the right food; high in protein, fibre and nutrient content.

Helen