Be SugarSmart with Change4Life

Sugar is something that concerns me for both myself and my children. I think it is becoming more and more obvious that it is a problem and is increasing the risks of Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity and tooth decay. It is important to understand the difference between natural and added sugars – the latter being the ones we need to restrict. Food labels can be all so confusing, especially when trying to translate what it means to children.

Four to ten year olds consume over 5,500 sugar cubes each year – which is the average weight of a five year old

Change4Life have launched a new campaign to encourage parents to get ‘Sugar Smart’ – educating both parents and children in avoiding lots of the ‘hidden sugars’ found in foods that are commonly available and enjoyed by children, so that they can make healthier choices as a family. I was really pleased to be able to try out the new Change4Life ‘Sugar Smart’ app whilst it was in its Beta stages.

change4life sugar smart app

The app is totally free and available for download from both the App Store and Google Play for Android:
App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/change4life-sugar-smart/id1015850256?mt=8
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.PHE.SugarSwaps&hl=en_GB

About Change4Life ‘Sugar Smart’ app

The app loads by telling you how much sugar each age group should be having daily in terms of sugar cubes and in grams. This is split into 3 age groups – with 11 years and older being the top group with 7 sugar cubes. Then simply point the red line on screen to the barcode of the food you want to see how much sugar it has. Different readings are given and you can swap across to see how much sugar different amounts of the product have. You have the option of sharing the image (of the amount of sugar for that product) on Facebook, by e-mail, by text message or in notes.sugar amounts for kids in cubes and grams

There is a help button if you are unsure/forget how to use the app, and many other menu options which include your scan history (useful if you want to compare products or keep an eye on how much sugar you have consumed); information about sugar- including advice on the common things children eat and drink with substitution ideas (and a reminder of the amounts of sugar per age group); a link to join Change4Life; a link to the Change4Life website and the terms and conditions.

My thoughts on Change4Life ‘Sugar Smart’ app

I thought that the app is a very good idea. It takes the complicatedness out of food labels – especially whilst you are in a supermarket making decisions. I think it really simplifies it and makes it easier for even the children to understand. I gives them informed choices. My 8 year old, for example, discovered that the waffles we had over Christmas were higher in sugar than he thought and so decided to limit himself to one instead of 2. The app also gave me the opportunity to talk to my teen about sweeteners as his Dr Pepper Zero has zero sugar but does have artificial sweeteners. I then talked to him about Stevia. For me it was interesting to note that, in terms of sugar, the Seeded bread I try to encourage my boys to eat was the same as the white bread they prefer to eat. Although, according to their packaging the white bread actually has slightly less per slice!

Kingsmill Soft White

Per pack 7.6 sugar cubes
30.4 grams total sugar
Per 100g/ml
1 sugar cube
4 grams total sugar

Per portion
0.4 sugar cubes
1.6 grams total sugar

Hovis Seed Sensations Original Seven Seeds

Per pack 7.6 sugar cubes
30.4 grams total sugar

Per 100g/ml
1 sugar cube
4 grams total sugar

Per portion
0.4 sugar cubes
1.6 grams total sugar

In conclusion the Sugar Smart app was really easy to use and very useful for understanding the amounts of sugar in food and drink, in a clear way that I could relate back to my young children. The Sugar Smart app is still in its beta and am sure it will develop a lot further. Currently there was an issue with dried bananas coming up as apricots – but I was told I was using it before launch. And that again was really surprising as you just kind of assuming it would be okay as it is fruit (Whitworths Apricots have 22.5 sugar cubes per 250g pack – over 3 times as much as the amount for anyone over the age of 11 years!) Sugar smart app Change4Life

I could see this app being developed so much more in the future with options of alternatives coming up when scanning products. Or an actual comparative screen (as different brands of the same breads have different amounts of sugar for example). I would also like to expand on the history section – for instance to be able to put in each member of the family’s sugar intake so it could be monitored throughout the day.

Diabetes is a rapidly growing global health crisis with the number of confirmed cases doubling in 20 years to more than 380 million with three million sufferers in the UK alone. It is a common life-long health condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot process it efficiently. Diabetes develops when glucose cannot enter the body’s cells to be used as fuel. In the case of Type 2 diabetes this is because there is not enough insulin in the body to be effective. Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable with the right lifestyle choices.

 

I am being financially compensated in terms of vouchers for the post but I reviewed it because it is genuinely an important issue to me and all opinions are honest and my own. Words in bold have been sent to me by e-mail by various sources and I thought that they were fitting for this post. I cannot vouch for their accuracy.