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Parents criticise Government's 100-calorie snack campaign as 'a step too far'

Article By: Melissa McAlees

A new healthy eating campaign launched by Public Health England (PHE) has left many parents ‘furious’ with its ‘unrealistic’ guidelines.

Credit: Maya Kruchankova/

With latest research showing that children consume at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, parents are being encouraged by the new Change4Life campaign to look for ‘100 calorie snacks, two a day max’ to help them purchase healthier items than the ones they currently buy.

However, the campaign has angered many parents who feel the emphasis should be placed on moderation, not limits.

One parent wrote on Families Online Facebook page: “Reducing calories for children shouldn't be the aim here; a handful of nuts or some slices of avocado would be classed as high calorie, but would be far, far more nutritious than a reduced fat, (full of sweetener) yogurt. Children need calories, but healthy ones.”

Others suggested that not all cases are simply ‘black and white’, with one parent suggesting that the focus should be on “educating children about food and how to cook from a young age, not on limiting snacks.”

According to PHE, each year children are consuming around 400 biscuits; more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries; 100 portions of sweets; 70 chocolate bars and over 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink. The overall result is that children consume three times more sugar than is recommended.

The eight-week Change4Life campaign offers parents money-off vouchers towards items which include lower sugar fromage frais, malt loaf and drinks with no added sugar.

Selected supermarkets, including Tesco and Co-op, are supporting the campaign and will be providing tasty and healthy snacking products, making it easier for customers to make healthier choices on the go.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, supports the campaign, which aims to help parents take control of their children’s snacking. She said: “The true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they’re concerned.

“To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking.”

Justine Roberts, chief executive officer and founder of Mumsnet, added: “The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mind-blowing, and it can often be difficult to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren’t. This rule of thumb from Change4Life will help parents make healthier choices, which can only be a good thing.”


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