Parents are being warned to limit children to two snacks of no more than 100 calories per day.
Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that on average children are consuming at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming four or more.
That means the average child can easily consume three times more sugar than recommended with the PHE warning that half of children’s sugar intake – around seven sugar cubes a day – comes from unhealthy snacks and drinks.
Each year children consume almost 400 biscuits, more than 120 cakes, 100 sweets, 70 chocolate bars and 70 ice creams, washed down with more than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.
Now the health body are calling on parents to be tougher on their kids snacking of sweets, cakes and fizzy drinks between meals.
Its new Change4Life campaign is urging mums and dads to limit snacks to just two a day of no more than 100 calories each.
It is hoped the move might help to tackle the obesity epidemic in which a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese.
The campaign features a TV advert created by Aardman animations and will run across England for eight weeks from Tuesday.
Parents are being encouraged to take advantage of the special offers on a range of healthier snacks at selected supermarkets, including fresh or tinned fruit salad, chopped vegetables, low fat hummus, plain rice cakes and malt loaf.
Speaking about the campaign, Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, 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.
“You see children buying chips coming out of school and buying a bag of chips on their way home from school, and that’s part of the reason why we have an obesity epidemic in this country.
“To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking – look for 100 calories snacks, two a day max.”
How many calories are in typical kids snacks?
An ice-cream – about 175 calories
A pack of crisps – 190 calories
A chocolate bar – 200 calories
A pastry – 270 calories
Source: Kantar research group
Snacks containing no more than 100 calories
Soreen malt lunchbox loaves (apple, banana or original malt)
Petits Filous fromage frais (strawberry and raspberry, strawberry, strawberry and apricot, strawberry and banana)
Fruit Shoot hydro water in apple and blackcurrant flavour
Fresh or tinned fruit salad
Chopped vegetables and lower fat hummus
Plain rice cakes or crackers with lower fat cheese
One scotch pancake
Source: Public Health England via BBC
PHE’s Top tips for snack time
Keep it in easy reach– have a fruit bowl in the house so fruity snacks are nearby when your kids are peckish.
Fill the fridge– have ready-to-eat fruit and veg, like carrot, cucumber, celery and peppers, pre-prepared for an easy snack kids can eat with their fingers.
Pack a snack– save money, and time, when you’re out and about by taking bananas, apples or chopped up vegetables with you.
Get the kids involved– try making snack time exciting and more hands-on. Get your child involved by getting them to chop up the fruit and vegetables they’re going to eat, they’ll love chopping it up themselves!
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