Young readers snack their way to success at libraries

George Downes with his prize at Shoreham Library
George Downes with his prize at Shoreham Library

Families across West Sussex have been busy learning which everyday foods and drinks contain the most sugar, and spotting healthier snacks and drinks.

This spring, hundreds of people entered the Healthier Snacking Challenge at libraries across the county, which supported the national Public Health England Change4Life nutrition campaign, aiming to help parents to reduce children’s sugar intake by introducing the new simple tip – ‘Look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max’ .

The treasure-hunt-style quiz developed by West Sussex Public Health, as part of the West Sussex Sugar Reduction Programme, and delivered in partnership with the West Sussex Library Service, saw them scouring the bookshelves for answers to a number of questions about how many cubes of sugar are in family favourites, such as ice cream, cans of fizzy drink and juice cartons.

They also identified which foods made the perfect healthy snack, and which ones could lead to toothache.

Twelve lucky winners were presented with a copy of Children’s Cookbook, Eat Your Greens, Reds, Yellows and Purples.

The county council says youngsters are getting half their sugar intake from soft drinks and unhealthy snacks, like cakes and biscuits, and that children with a healthier diet are happier and better able to concentrate in school.

Childhood obesity is a serious concern with figures showing that in West Sussex 20.7 per cent of reception-aged children and 28.6 per cent of year-six children were overweight or obese in 2016/17.

At Shoreham Library, six-year-old George Downes was named as one of the winners.

His mum Charlie Downes said: “It was brilliant to win the competition.

“I’m always trying to find new exciting and healthy recipes for my children. S

“Sugar seems to be added to so many things, I try to avoid this by making freshly cooked recipes.”

George said he was already enjoying the recipes in his new book. He said: “I was really excited to win the competition! I’ve made a green smoothie, and it was yummy!”

Amanda Jupp, the county council’s cabinet member for adults and health, said: “Unhealthy snacks and drinks account for around half of a child’s sugar intake.

“We all know that too much sugar can lead to serious health problems, as well as tooth decay.”

“I am delighted that so many children took part in this year’s Healthier Snacking Challenge, and hope that they are able to take all of their new-found knowledge into their everyday lives to ensure they lead happy and healthy lives.”

West Sussex families are encouraged to visit Change4Life for healthier snacking ideas – log on to www.nhs.uk/change4life – and to download the free Change4Life Food Scanner App to see what’s really inside their food and drink, discovering which ones are healthiest. The app is available from the App Store and Google Play.