Guidance on reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages

The Infant and Toddler Forum (ITF) welcomes the new Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) draft recommendations on Carbohydrates and Health for public consultation, and Public Health England’s (PHE) report Sugar reduction: Responding to the Challenge, both published this week in an attempt to halt the UK’s looming obesity crisis by reducing our sugar intake.

Recommendations include for the population to halve the consumption of free sugars to around 5% of daily dietary energy intake; and to minimise consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g. fizzy drinks, squash) by both children and adults.

PHE is calling on charities, non-governmental organisations, academics, businesses, retailers and consumers to work together to reduce the amount of sugar we eat as a nation. Both reports have generated a huge media response around sugar and obesity but it’s also important to remember that all drinks sweetened with sugar, or naturally sweet with fruit sugar (e.g. fruit juices) cause dental decay. Over 27% of 5 year olds have tooth decay according to the National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England, with children on average having between 3 and 4 teeth affected by decay.

Judy More, paediatric dietitian and member of the Infant & Toddler Forum comments: “In amongst this explosion of media interest, parents need practical advice and information. Toddlers should be offered 6-8 drinks per day; one drink with each meal and snack. Water is a good choice because it contains no sugar or acid and will not damage the teeth. All sweet foods and, if offered, sweet drinks should be limited to mealtimes and to no more than one snack a day. Sweet and acidic drinks, including squashes and fruit juices, can damage the teeth and are not a necessary source of vitamin C, which is provided by fruit and vegetables. If fruit juice is offered to toddlers, it should be well diluted – one part juice to about six to ten parts water.”

For more practical advice and information, from the ITF please see the Meals Snacks and Drinks Factsheet for healthcare professionals and Guidance and Tips sheet for parents.

References

1. National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England, oral health survey of 5 year old children 2012’ study on the prevalence and severity of dental decay

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Further Reading

  • Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian and Registered Nutritionist Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   Have a healthy Easter with The Infant & Toddler Forum’s suggested menu for toddlers!
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   Why is salt important for my toddler’s diet? Sodium, which is in salt, is important for healthy muscle, stomach and nerve function as well as being an essential component in the blood. Children need some sodium to grow.
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   Although the number of people in the UK forced to turn to food banks has been on the rise for a number of years now, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the already worrying situation even further. Data gathered by the Trussell Trust shows that there was a 47% increase in the number of people relying on foodbanks during the first six months of the pandemic compared to the same period last year. It seems families with children have been hardest hit with 2,600 food parcels being provided for children every day.