Public Health England (PHE) has launched its first Change4Life campaign to promote healthy snacking.
Half the sugar consumed by children in England comes from snacks and sugary drinks, according to the campaign.
PHE chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone 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.”
On average, children are consuming at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, leading to health problems such as obesity and dental decay, according to Public Health England.
The new Change4Life campaign is being supported by the slogan ‘100 calorie snacks, two a day max’ to help parents and children make more healthy snacking purchases.
A number of retailers are supporting the initiative, with Tesco and the Co-operative Group focusing on offering consumers more affordable, healthier snacks that can easily be taken on the go.
Parents can also request money-off vouchers from Change4Life to purchase healthier snack options such as malt loaf, lower-sugar fromage frais, and drinks with no added sugar.
The improved PHE Change4Life Food Scanner app can also be used by consumers to track the amount of calories, sugar, salt and saturated fat contained in everyday food items.
With a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, PHE is working alongside the food industry to cut sugar by 20% in popular kids products before 2020. A sugar tax on the UK soft drinks industry will also be introduced from April this year.
Mumsnet ceo and founder Justine Roberts said: “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.”