Public Health England (PHE) has created a mobile phone app that allows parents to monitor the sugar intake of their children.
The move is in response to the news that four- to 10-year-olds consume 22kg of sugar a year – equivalent to the weight of an average five-year-old. The Sugar Smart campaign will sit alongside PHE’s two other current initiatives, Dry January and a new anti-smoking advertising drive.
The sugar campaign follows PHE’s contentious sugar tax report in October, which supported a 10% to 20% tax on certain products deemed to be high in sugar. PHE is also handing out five million Sugar Smart packs to primary school children and their families, while a national roadshow will tour 25 UK locations from 18 January.
The app can scan up 75,000 products, informed by data from the George Institute for Global Health and mysupermarket.co.uk. The information will be updated every two months.
Shoppers using the app will see ‘shout-outs’ when they add high-sugar products to their online baskets, encouraging them to pick low-sugar alternatives. Retailers Asda, Tesco, The Co-operative, Aldi and Morrisons are all supporting the campaign.
Sugar Smart has been allocated the largest budget out of PHE’s three campaigns, with £5m. It aims to remind parents to pick healthier options for their children by revealing the sugar content of everyday foods and drinks. There will be TV, digital, outdoor and digital content alongside the mobile app, which lets parents scan product bar codes to reveal the amount of sugar in cubes and grams.
Singer and TV presenter Jamelia is supporting the campaign and starring in a series of Sugar Smart films. Obesity costs the NHS around £5.1bn a year, a figure expected to rise to £9.7bn by 2050.