Time to cut back on sugar – get the message across

Karen Faux
Thursday, January 10, 2019

Change4Life provides new ammunition in the war against sugar with the launch of teaching resources tailored to maths and English lessons. Both subjects can be a powerful way to educate children on the importance of cutting back.

According to Public Health England (PHE) the average 10-year-old has already consumed at least 18 years’ worth of sugar. While children’s sugar intakes have declined slightly in recent years, they are still consuming around eight extra sugar cubes each day, equivalent to around 2,800 excess sugar cubes per year.

PHE is now tackling pupil and family awareness of this with the launch of dedicated English and Maths teaching resources for primary schools across England. These will also explain how to make healthier swaps to reduce their sugar intake.

This complements the national campaign encouraging parents to ‘make a swap when you next shop’, to help families enjoy healthier versions of the foods and drinks they are currently consuming.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said:Children are consuming too much sugar and obesity is a very real threat to their health. Educating them on the importance of a healthy balanced diet in their early years can help them avoid serious illness in future.

By making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.’

Nutrition to start the day

An investment in health

Tackling child obesity

Important role for schools
Too much sugar can cause preventable health problems. Over a third (34 per cent) of children are leaving primary school overweight or obese, and severe obesity in ten to eleven year olds has now reached an all-time high. More young people than ever before are also developing Type 2 diabetes, and every 10 minutes a child in England has a rotten tooth removed in hospital.

While parents are encouraged to make healthier choices for the whole family, schools can also play an important role in children’s health, as part of a broader wellbeing programme.

Developed with teachers, the new English lesson plans introduce pupils to the characters of ‘Sugar Smart World’ through fun, interactive PowerPoints, pupil-led activities, recipe ideas from around the world and a new video. Change4Life Maths lesson plans will reinforce healthier swaps, while including important problem solving skills using addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

Through the lesson activities, children will learn that the number of extra sugar cubes they are consuming is enough to wrap around the world more than three-and-a-half times.

Teachers are behind the move to help children realise just how much sugar is in everyday foods and drinks. Jon Moorhouse, deputy headteacher, St Saviour CE Primary School, Bolton said: ‘The new resources are high quality, adaptable and can be used in other areas of the curriculum like Personal, Social and Health Education, English, Maths and Science.

‘Being more sugar smart empowers children to help themselves and their families make healthier choices. This could have a big impact on children’s health for the rest of their lives.’

The resources are flexible to use and tailored for reception, key stage 1 and upper and lower key stage two pupils. They complement recently launched dental lesson plans – the first Change4Life teaching resources to help pupils understand the effects of sugar consumption on teeth.

To get involved with Change4Life, schools and teachers can:

  • Access the Sugar Smart World take-home packs arriving in schools from mid-late January.
  • Search ‘Change4Life/schools’ online or visit the School Zone to access the new resources for schools.
  • Sign up to the School Zone to be the first to hear about new teaching resources launching later this year to help embed healthier habits in your school.

Tell Change4Life how your school is getting involved – email your pictures, videos or stories at partnerships@phe.gov.uk

PHE’s Sugar reduction: report on first year progress is published here:



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