Worries about what our kids are eating are nothing new: we often see scary headlines warning us about the trouble in store for our little ones if we don’t regulate their diet and make sure they’re getting enough exercise.
And, just in time for the new year – after many of us have probably gorged our way through far more than our fair share of chocolates and sweet treats – Public Health England has warned that our children are having too much sugar at the start of the day. Sugary breakfasts contribute to many children having 3 times the recommended sugar intake in 24 hours, according to research carried out for the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.
What the experts say
Officials have put the spotlight on super sugary cereals such as Frosties, Coco Pops and Cheerios as well as spreads (we’re guessing things like jam and chocolate spread) and even fruit juices – which we know can be high in sugar (take a look at our guide to the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ fruit juices).
Such sweet things for brekkie can mean children have had 11 grams (3 teaspoons) of sugar in that one meal alone when the recommended sugar intake for 4 to 6 year olds is no more than 19 grams (5 teaspoons) in a WHOLE day.
Researchers suggest that often parents have no idea just how unhealthy their kids’ breakfasts are. Of the parents whose children were having 3 teaspoons of sugar for breakfast, 84% believed their child was getting a healthy meal.
So – how can you make your child’s breakfast healthier?
There’s no doubt that children’s cereals tend to be pretty high in sugar content. The NHS suggests switching to:
- wholewheat cereal biscuits
- plain shredded wholegrain pillows, such as Shredded Wheat
- plain porridge.
If your little ones turn their noses up at these, muesli, fresh fruit or low-fat yoghurts are another option, or reduced salt baked beans with wholemeal toast.
We know, we know – the above will probably be a pretty tough switch. After all, children’s cereals have been designed to get kids loving them WAY more than the non-sweet stuff.
But, as we’ve already mentioned, fruit juice can be a real culprit when it comes to sugar content. So if you can, even just trying to persuade your little one to drink water or milk instead will go some way in reducing their morning sugar intake.
If you’re feeding a toddler – check out our healthy ideas for a toddler’s breakfast.
That’s breakfast sorted….
This report focuses on your child’s morning food habits, but If you want ideas for the rest of the day – these might just help: