We may not be long into January, but there’s already a hot health topic making the headlines – sugar. With Obesity Awareness Week focusing a lot of their campaign on reducing our sugar intake, the news that Public Health England have launched a new free ‘sugar counting’ app is a welcome sign for our future health. By downloading and using the app, we can aim to cut down the amount of sugar we, and our families consume each year.

About the App

The launch of the app by Public Health England is part of the Change4Life campaign, and follows the revelation that on average, 4-10 year olds consume the average body weight of a 5-year old, 22kg in sugar a year. The app is aimed at parents to help them work out exactly what the sugar content of food and drink is, by scanning the barcode on the label. Being aware of the figures can encourage parents to make better choices for their children and for themselves too.

Using the app is simple, once you’ve downloaded it. By following the steps below you can get started and start reducing your sugar intake for good:

  • Find the app in either the Apple app store or Google Play and click to download it to your device.
  • Note that there are different recommended daily allowances for different age groups
  • Find a product with a barcode and hold the app up to it. By fitting it within the frame, the camera will detect the barcode and scan it automatically. You may be asked to allow access to your camera. Make sure that you click ‘yes’ or the app won’t work.
  • The app will display how much sugar content is in the item.
  • If you want to share your results, you can share a link directly to social media sites to alert your friends and family.
  • By clicking the ‘Menu’ option, you can see your past searches, go to the website, join Change4Life and learn more about sugar

The app can make a significant difference to families who may not be aware of the high sugar content in their food.

Sugar in food

Added sugar features in high quantities in a number of everyday foods and drink, but seeing numbers can make it difficult to visualise just how much sugar that is. To put it into perspective, some typical sugar contents include:

  • Nine cubes of sugar in a can of cola
  • Six cubes of sugar in a chocolate bar
  • Five cubes of sugar in a small juice carton drink

Amongst the typical consequences of too much sugar in our food are issues such as tooth decay and weight gain as well as higher risks of developing diabetes, cancers and heart disease.

The chief nutritionist from Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone said: “If there’s one thing I’d strongly encourage parents to do, it’s to swap sugary drinks out of their kids’ diets for either a low-sugar drink or water or low-fat milk, which would be a really excellent choice.”

Other initiatives being considered to reduce the effects of sugar on our health include a sugar tax, to discourage people from buying foods with high sugar content, whilst the Obesity Awareness Week JanUary campaign recommends people take a ‘sugar reduction challenge’ to lower sugar levels in their diet.

If you are concerned about the levels of sugar in your diet, or want to find out more about ways you can cut down on sugar, the NHS Live Well website has some great resources to give you plenty of information. Making a healthy change now could make a huge difference in later life.