Dire Warning: Average 5-Year-Old in UK Eats Own Weight in Sugar Every Year

© RIA Novosti . Elena PakhomovaEdible fingers, sweet hamburgers and sugar deers at Cake Britain in London
Edible fingers, sweet hamburgers and sugar deers at Cake Britain in London - Sputnik International
Childhood obesity poses a real threat to public health, and costs the state billions every year.

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The average British 5-year-old consumes around 22 kilograms of sugar per year, health officials warn, around three times the recommended maximum intake.

The UK Department of Health is raising alarm over the shocking numbers and is urging parents to take control over their children's eating habits.

Every fifth child is suffering from obesity by the age of five, and that rate rises to one in three for children aged 11, the Telegraph reported.

Public Health England (PHE) has launched a campaign aiming to cut the sugar consumed by five-year-olds down to the equivalent of no more than five cubes per day, from a current average of seven.  A new free app was designed to measure the amount of sugar, in cubes and grams, contained in everyday foods and drinks. It works by scanning product barcodes.

The rate of children being admitted to hospitals for tooth decay in the UK has risen by 14% since 2012, and almost half of eight-year-olds suffer from the affliction. But dental hygiene isn't the only threat to overweight children's health.  

"Children are having too much sugar, three times the maximum recommended amount," PHE's Chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said.  "This can lead to painful tooth decay, weight gain and obesity, which can also affect children's wellbeing as they are more likely to be bullied, have low self-esteem and miss school."

The National Health Service estimated they spend around $7.53 billion annually on obesity. By 2050, the costs will reportedly reach $14.4 billion per year, with wider costs to society projected to amount to $73.7 billion.

The number of Britons with Type 2 diabetes is close to 2.5 million, 90 percent of whom were previously diagnosed as overweight or obese.

Prime Minister David Cameron has yet acted on calls for a "sugar tax" to be imposed on drinks and foods, despite alarm by PHE, the Commons health select committee, and high-profile advocates like celebrity cook Jamie Oliver.

Fruit juices and sodas are considered by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey as the most potent sources for sugar for children aged 4 to 18.

Overweight rates have increased since last year, when health officials cut in half the recommended daily sugar intake. According to revised figures, an average adult should consume no more than 30 grams of sugar on a daily basis, or five percent of daily caloric intake.  Children aged 4 to 6 should consume no more than 19 g of sugar per day — less than half the sugar contained in a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola.

Recommendations on childhood obesity will reportedly be published on the UK government site later this month, including recommendations on limiting television ads for unhealthy foods and drinks during family prime time.

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