Campaign to urge Lancashire families to cut the sugar

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One in five four-to-five year-olds in Lancashire are overweight or very overweight when they start school, reports have shown.

The number increases to one in three 10-to-11 year-olds, and parents are being encouraged to “be food smart” and take control of their children’s diets.

A new Change4Life campaign by Public Health England is highlighting the amount of sugar, saturated far and salt found in everyday food and drink.

It follows findings that children consume half the daily recommended sugar intake before the morning school bell rings, with sugar in cereals, drinks and spreads.

A new “Be Food Smart” app has been developed to highlight how much sugar, saturated fat and salt can be found in food and drink, helping families choose healthier options.

County Coun Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “The latest child obesity figures for Lancashire show just how important it is for families to know what they are putting on their plates.

“Healthy food makes an important contribution to children’s vitamin and mineral intakes and has been linked to many positive health outcomes.

“I would encourage people to download the Be Food Smart App, which helps parents choose healthier food and drink options for their children.”

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health for Lancashire County Council, said: “It’s concerning to see the high amount of free sugars and low amount of fibre in many families food choices.

“Our children might seem fine on the outside but too much sugar and saturated fat can lead to the build-up of harmful fat on the inside that we can’t see.

“This fat around their vital organs can cause weight gain and serious diseases in the future, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or even some cancers.

“Over time, eating too much salt can also raise our blood pressure putting us at risk of heart disease and stroke.”