Children consume more sugar by age ten than recommended for an 18 year old

Switching to low-sugar options could cut intake by 2,500 sugar cubes a year 

Switching to low-sugar options could cut intake by 2,500 sugar cubes a year 

Picture: iStock

Children have, on average, eaten more sugar by the time they reach their 10th birthday than the maximum amount recommended for an 18-year-old, a study suggests.

Public Health England (PHE) said the average ten year old has consumed at least 138kg (304lb) of sugar by the time they reach adulthood.

The data on household eating habits in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland was released as PHE offers parents tips on how to get youngsters to eat less sugar.

The recommended maximum amount of sugar for ten year olds is 20-24 grams a day.

But according to the PHE’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, children consume an average of 52.2g a day, based on consumption from the age of two.

This is equivalent to 13 sugar cubes a day, eight more than the recommended level.


The Change4Life campaign is encouraging parents to change their shopping habits.

Making different choices of yoghurts, drinks and cereals could cut a child’s sugar intake by half, according to PHE.

PHE said food and beverage manufacturers have responded to calls for lower sugar content, making it easier for parents to find alternative options.

In May last year, the government health agency published its report on progress towards a first-year sugar reduction of 5%, with an average 2% cut across categories for retailers and manufacturers.

Switching to low-sugar options could cut intake by as much as 2,500 sugar cubes per year from a child’s diet.

The Change4Life campaign is being launched as severe obesity in children aged 10-11 hits an all-time high, PHE said.


One third of youngsters are leaving primary school overweight or obese, and more young people than ever are developing type-2 diabetes.

Children who are overweight are also more likely to remain so into adulthood, and are at higher risk of developing heart disease and some forms of cancer.

PHE chief nutritionist Alison Tedstone said: ‘Children are consuming too much sugar, but parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years.

‘To make this easier for busy families, Change4Life is offering a straightforward solution: by making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.’

Families are encouraged to look for the Change4Life Good Choice badge on products in shops, and can download a free app to identify lower-sugar options.

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