PHE hope the free app, which works by scanning barcodes and revealing total sugar in cubes or grams, will help combat tooth decay, obesity and type two diabetes and encourage families to choose healthier alternatives.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for Public Health England, said: "Children are having too much sugar, 3 times the maximum recommended amount. 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.
"Children aged 5 shouldn’t have more than 19 grams of sugar per day. That’s 5 cubes, but it’s very easy to have more. That’s why we want parents to be 'Sugar Smart'. Our easy to use app will help parents see exactly where the sugar in their children’s diet is coming from, so they can make informed choices about what to cut down on."
Obesity costs the NHS £5.1 billion per year and is projected to rise to £9.7 billion by 2050, with wider costs to society estimated to reach £49.9 billion per year.
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The app forms part of the Change4Life 'Sugar Smart' campaign which has been now been launched across television, digital and outdoor advertising. Additionally, 5 million Sugar Smart packs will be given away to primary age children and their families via schools, local authorities and retailers while a nationwide roadshow will take place across 25 locations from 18th January. Five major supermarkets have also pledged to support the campaign through educating and helping customers make healthier food choices when shopping.
The 'Sugar Smart' campaign comes alongside other PHE initiatives like Dry January and an anti-smoking campaign but has been allocated the most budget out of the three campaigns at £5m. It follows last October's 'sugar tax' report, which supported a 10% to 20% tax on certain products deemed to be high in sugar.
The recommended daily maximum added sugar intake is:
• 19g or 5 sugar cubes for children aged 4 to 6
• 24g or 6 sugar cubes for children aged 7 to 10
• 30g or 7 sugar cubes for children aged 11 or older.
You can download the Sugar Smart app at www.nhs.uk/change4life/Pages/change-for-life.aspx