Tag Archives: Children

Limit children to two sugary snacks a day, parents told

Children’s snacking habits are setting them up for obesity and poor health, Public Health England has warned, calling on parents to take a tougher line on sweets and cakes and fizzy drinks between meals.

Children in England are eating on average at least three unhealthy high-calorie sugary snacks and drinks every day, says PHE, and about a third of children eat four or more. It is urging parents to draw the line at two and make sure they are not more than 100 calories each.

The diet of the average child can contain three times more sugar than recommended, says PHE. Half the equivalent of seven sugar cubes a day they consume comes from unhealthy snacks and drinks. Each year that includes almost 400 biscuits, more than 120 cakes, 100 sweets, 70 chocolate bars and 70 ice creams, washed down with more than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.

children’s snacks graphic

The slogan of a new campaign under the Change4Life banner is: “Look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max”.

That could lead to a significant change in diet. An ice-cream contains about 175 calories, a pack of crisps contains about 190 calories, a chocolate bar contains about 200 calories and a pastry contains about 270 calories, says PHE.

There will be a drive to encourage healthier snacking, with signposting at supermarkets and special offers on fruit and vegetables. Parents can sign up on the Change4Life website to get vouchers for money off snacks PHE identifies as healthier, such as malt loaf, lower sugar fromage frais, and drinks with no added sugar.

Other snack foods PHE says are healthier include fresh or tinned fruit salad, chopped vegetables and lower fat hummus, plain rice cakes, crackers, lower fat cheese, small low-fat, lower sugar yoghurt, sugar free jelly, crumpets and Scotch pancakes.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “The true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they’re concerned.

“To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking – look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max.”

The campaign will include a new TV advert from Aardman Animations as well as leaflets in schools.

Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said: “The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mindblowing, and it can often be difficult to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren’t.

A third of children are leaving primary school obese or overweight. Recent figures from the National Child Measurement Programme in schools show the number of obese children in reception year has risen for the second consecutive year (to 9.6%) and has shown no improvement in year 6 (20%).

A quarter of children (24.7%) suffer from tooth decay by the time they turn five. Tooth extraction is the most common cause of hospital admissions in children aged 5 to 9 years.

Hunt plans helpline for children of alcoholics after Labour MP’s story

Jeremy Hunt is drawing up a strategy including a new national helpline to support 200,000 children being raised by alcoholic parents, after being moved by the personal story of his Labour counterpart.

The health secretary praised was he said was the extraordinary bravery of Jonathan Ashworth, who spoke out about an upbringing in which his father would fall over drunk at the school gates.

Opening up unexpectedly in an interview with the Guardian a year ago, Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, also described how he would return home to a fridge stacked with cheap alcohol and no food.

Since the publication of the article, which drew a huge response, Ashworth has joined campaigners to call for urgent support for the children of people who have problems with alcohol.

Now the government is committing £500,000 to expand an existing local support line for children into a national helpline.

Hunt said the issue transcended party politics and that he wanted to work cross-party to help change the story for those affected. “It is heartbreaking that so many children grow up under the shadow of their parents’ alcohol addiction,” he said.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics received 36,000 emails and phone calls last year. It said its helpline counsellors had read bedtime stories to five-year-olds because their parents were too drunk to pay them attention at night.

Other cases involved children who had been physically abused or neglected as a result of their parents’ alcohol use.

The government said the children of alcoholic parents were twice as likely to have problems at school, three times as likely to consider suicide and five times more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Ashworth said he welcomed the move, but that it needed to be backed up with the “necessary action and resources”.

“A year ago in the Guardian I spoke frankly about my own personal circumstances growing up with an alcoholic parent,” he said. “In fact I didn’t mean to speak out at all but since I did I received countless messages from others sharing their stories growing up in similar circumstances.

“Those messages gave me strength and huge comfort as I’ve campaigned for a strategy to support children of alcoholics these past 12 months.”

He said Hunt’s commitment to work on a cross-party basis to produce a strategy, starting with funding a national helpline, was “a victory to all those who supported our campaign as well as MPs like Liam Byrne and Caroline Flint who have also spoken out so bravely”.

He promised to engage with ministers to ensure that “this absolutely crucial and welcome announcement” was fully backed up.

Hunt plans helpline for children of alcoholics after Labour MP’s story

Jeremy Hunt is drawing up a strategy including a new national helpline to support 200,000 children being raised by alcoholic parents, after being moved by the personal story of his Labour counterpart.

The health secretary praised was he said was the extraordinary bravery of Jonathan Ashworth, who spoke out about an upbringing in which his father would fall over drunk at the school gates.

Opening up unexpectedly in an interview with the Guardian a year ago, Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, also described how he would return home to a fridge stacked with cheap alcohol and no food.

Since the publication of the article, which drew a huge response, Ashworth has joined campaigners to call for urgent support for the children of people who have problems with alcohol.

Now the government is committing £500,000 to expand an existing local support line for children into a national helpline.

Hunt said the issue transcended party politics and that he wanted to work cross-party to help change the story for those affected. “It is heartbreaking that so many children grow up under the shadow of their parents’ alcohol addiction,” he said.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics received 36,000 emails and phone calls last year. It said its helpline counsellors had read bedtime stories to five-year-olds because their parents were too drunk to pay them attention at night.

Other cases involved children who had been physically abused or neglected as a result of their parents’ alcohol use.

The government said the children of alcoholic parents were twice as likely to have problems at school, three times as likely to consider suicide and five times more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Ashworth said he welcomed the move, but that it needed to be backed up with the “necessary action and resources”.

“A year ago in the Guardian I spoke frankly about my own personal circumstances growing up with an alcoholic parent,” he said. “In fact I didn’t mean to speak out at all but since I did I received countless messages from others sharing their stories growing up in similar circumstances.

“Those messages gave me strength and huge comfort as I’ve campaigned for a strategy to support children of alcoholics these past 12 months.”

He said Hunt’s commitment to work on a cross-party basis to produce a strategy, starting with funding a national helpline, was “a victory to all those who supported our campaign as well as MPs like Liam Byrne and Caroline Flint who have also spoken out so bravely”.

He promised to engage with ministers to ensure that “this absolutely crucial and welcome announcement” was fully backed up.

Hunt plans helpline for children of alcoholics after Labour MP’s story

Jeremy Hunt is drawing up a strategy including a new national helpline to support 200,000 children being raised by alcoholic parents, after being moved by the personal story of his Labour counterpart.

The health secretary praised was he said was the extraordinary bravery of Jonathan Ashworth, who spoke out about an upbringing in which his father would fall over drunk at the school gates.

Opening up unexpectedly in an interview with the Guardian a year ago, Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, also described how he would return home to a fridge stacked with cheap alcohol and no food.

Since the publication of the article, which drew a huge response, Ashworth has joined campaigners to call for urgent support for the children of people who have problems with alcohol.

Now the government is committing £500,000 to expand an existing local support line for children into a national helpline.

Hunt said the issue transcended party politics and that he wanted to work cross-party to help change the story for those affected. “It is heartbreaking that so many children grow up under the shadow of their parents’ alcohol addiction,” he said.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics received 36,000 emails and phone calls last year. It said its helpline counsellors had read bedtime stories to five-year-olds because their parents were too drunk to pay them attention at night.

Other cases involved children who had been physically abused or neglected as a result of their parents’ alcohol use.

The government said the children of alcoholic parents were twice as likely to have problems at school, three times as likely to consider suicide and five times more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Ashworth said he welcomed the move, but that it needed to be backed up with the “necessary action and resources”.

“A year ago in the Guardian I spoke frankly about my own personal circumstances growing up with an alcoholic parent,” he said. “In fact I didn’t mean to speak out at all but since I did I received countless messages from others sharing their stories growing up in similar circumstances.

“Those messages gave me strength and huge comfort as I’ve campaigned for a strategy to support children of alcoholics these past 12 months.”

He said Hunt’s commitment to work on a cross-party basis to produce a strategy, starting with funding a national helpline, was “a victory to all those who supported our campaign as well as MPs like Liam Byrne and Caroline Flint who have also spoken out so bravely”.

He promised to engage with ministers to ensure that “this absolutely crucial and welcome announcement” was fully backed up.

Hunt plans helpline for children of alcoholics after Labour MP’s story

Jeremy Hunt is drawing up a strategy including a new national helpline to support 200,000 children being raised by alcoholic parents, after being moved by the personal story of his Labour counterpart.

The health secretary praised was he said was the extraordinary bravery of Jonathan Ashworth, who spoke out about an upbringing in which his father would fall over drunk at the school gates.

Opening up unexpectedly in an interview with the Guardian a year ago, Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, also described how he would return home to a fridge stacked with cheap alcohol and no food.

Since the publication of the article, which drew a huge response, Ashworth has joined campaigners to call for urgent support for the children of people who have problems with alcohol.

Now the government is committing £500,000 to expand an existing local support line for children into a national helpline.

Hunt said the issue transcended party politics and that he wanted to work cross-party to help change the story for those affected. “It is heartbreaking that so many children grow up under the shadow of their parents’ alcohol addiction,” he said.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics received 36,000 emails and phone calls last year. It said its helpline counsellors had read bedtime stories to five-year-olds because their parents were too drunk to pay them attention at night.

Other cases involved children who had been physically abused or neglected as a result of their parents’ alcohol use.

The government said the children of alcoholic parents were twice as likely to have problems at school, three times as likely to consider suicide and five times more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Ashworth said he welcomed the move, but that it needed to be backed up with the “necessary action and resources”.

“A year ago in the Guardian I spoke frankly about my own personal circumstances growing up with an alcoholic parent,” he said. “In fact I didn’t mean to speak out at all but since I did I received countless messages from others sharing their stories growing up in similar circumstances.

“Those messages gave me strength and huge comfort as I’ve campaigned for a strategy to support children of alcoholics these past 12 months.”

He said Hunt’s commitment to work on a cross-party basis to produce a strategy, starting with funding a national helpline, was “a victory to all those who supported our campaign as well as MPs like Liam Byrne and Caroline Flint who have also spoken out so bravely”.

He promised to engage with ministers to ensure that “this absolutely crucial and welcome announcement” was fully backed up.

Hunt plans helpline for children of alcoholics after Labour MP’s story

Jeremy Hunt is drawing up a strategy including a new national helpline to support 200,000 children being raised by alcoholic parents, after being moved by the personal story of his Labour counterpart.

The health secretary praised was he said was the extraordinary bravery of Jonathan Ashworth, who spoke out about an upbringing in which his father would fall over drunk at the school gates.

Opening up unexpectedly in an interview with the Guardian a year ago, Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, also described how he would return home to a fridge stacked with cheap alcohol and no food.

Since the publication of the article, which drew a huge response, Ashworth has joined campaigners to call for urgent support for the children of people who have problems with alcohol.

Now the government is committing £500,000 to expand an existing local support line for children into a national helpline.

Hunt said the issue transcended party politics and that he wanted to work cross-party to help change the story for those affected. “It is heartbreaking that so many children grow up under the shadow of their parents’ alcohol addiction,” he said.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics received 36,000 emails and phone calls last year. It said its helpline counsellors had read bedtime stories to five-year-olds because their parents were too drunk to pay them attention at night.

Other cases involved children who had been physically abused or neglected as a result of their parents’ alcohol use.

The government said the children of alcoholic parents were twice as likely to have problems at school, three times as likely to consider suicide and five times more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Ashworth said he welcomed the move, but that it needed to be backed up with the “necessary action and resources”.

“A year ago in the Guardian I spoke frankly about my own personal circumstances growing up with an alcoholic parent,” he said. “In fact I didn’t mean to speak out at all but since I did I received countless messages from others sharing their stories growing up in similar circumstances.

“Those messages gave me strength and huge comfort as I’ve campaigned for a strategy to support children of alcoholics these past 12 months.”

He said Hunt’s commitment to work on a cross-party basis to produce a strategy, starting with funding a national helpline, was “a victory to all those who supported our campaign as well as MPs like Liam Byrne and Caroline Flint who have also spoken out so bravely”.

He promised to engage with ministers to ensure that “this absolutely crucial and welcome announcement” was fully backed up.

Hunt plans helpline for children of alcoholics after Labour MP’s story

Jeremy Hunt is drawing up a strategy including a new national helpline to support 200,000 children being raised by alcoholic parents, after being moved by the personal story of his Labour counterpart.

The health secretary praised was he said was the extraordinary bravery of Jonathan Ashworth, who spoke out about an upbringing in which his father would fall over drunk at the school gates.

Opening up unexpectedly in an interview with the Guardian a year ago, Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, also described how he would return home to a fridge stacked with cheap alcohol and no food.

Since the publication of the article, which drew a huge response, Ashworth has joined campaigners to call for urgent support for the children of people who have problems with alcohol.

Now the government is committing £500,000 to expand an existing local support line for children into a national helpline.

Hunt said the issue transcended party politics and that he wanted to work cross-party to help change the story for those affected. “It is heartbreaking that so many children grow up under the shadow of their parents’ alcohol addiction,” he said.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics received 36,000 emails and phone calls last year. It said its helpline counsellors had read bedtime stories to five-year-olds because their parents were too drunk to pay them attention at night.

Other cases involved children who had been physically abused or neglected as a result of their parents’ alcohol use.

The government said the children of alcoholic parents were twice as likely to have problems at school, three times as likely to consider suicide and five times more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Ashworth said he welcomed the move, but that it needed to be backed up with the “necessary action and resources”.

“A year ago in the Guardian I spoke frankly about my own personal circumstances growing up with an alcoholic parent,” he said. “In fact I didn’t mean to speak out at all but since I did I received countless messages from others sharing their stories growing up in similar circumstances.

“Those messages gave me strength and huge comfort as I’ve campaigned for a strategy to support children of alcoholics these past 12 months.”

He said Hunt’s commitment to work on a cross-party basis to produce a strategy, starting with funding a national helpline, was “a victory to all those who supported our campaign as well as MPs like Liam Byrne and Caroline Flint who have also spoken out so bravely”.

He promised to engage with ministers to ensure that “this absolutely crucial and welcome announcement” was fully backed up.

Hunt plans helpline for children of alcoholics after Labour MP’s story

Jeremy Hunt is drawing up a strategy including a new national helpline to support 200,000 children being raised by alcoholic parents, after being moved by the personal story of his Labour counterpart.

The health secretary praised was he said was the extraordinary bravery of Jonathan Ashworth, who spoke out about an upbringing in which his father would fall over drunk at the school gates.

Opening up unexpectedly in an interview with the Guardian a year ago, Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, also described how he would return home to a fridge stacked with cheap alcohol and no food.

Since the publication of the article, which drew a huge response, Ashworth has joined campaigners to call for urgent support for the children of people who have problems with alcohol.

Now the government is committing £500,000 to expand an existing local support line for children into a national helpline.

Hunt said the issue transcended party politics and that he wanted to work cross-party to help change the story for those affected. “It is heartbreaking that so many children grow up under the shadow of their parents’ alcohol addiction,” he said.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics received 36,000 emails and phone calls last year. It said its helpline counsellors had read bedtime stories to five-year-olds because their parents were too drunk to pay them attention at night.

Other cases involved children who had been physically abused or neglected as a result of their parents’ alcohol use.

The government said the children of alcoholic parents were twice as likely to have problems at school, three times as likely to consider suicide and five times more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Ashworth said he welcomed the move, but that it needed to be backed up with the “necessary action and resources”.

“A year ago in the Guardian I spoke frankly about my own personal circumstances growing up with an alcoholic parent,” he said. “In fact I didn’t mean to speak out at all but since I did I received countless messages from others sharing their stories growing up in similar circumstances.

“Those messages gave me strength and huge comfort as I’ve campaigned for a strategy to support children of alcoholics these past 12 months.”

He said Hunt’s commitment to work on a cross-party basis to produce a strategy, starting with funding a national helpline, was “a victory to all those who supported our campaign as well as MPs like Liam Byrne and Caroline Flint who have also spoken out so bravely”.

He promised to engage with ministers to ensure that “this absolutely crucial and welcome announcement” was fully backed up.

Is it time to ban children from using smartphones? | Julian Baggini

Imagine the latest must-have item for kids was addictive and had a proven link with disrupted sleep, depression, low self-esteem and attempted suicide. You certainly wouldn’t buy one for your own offspring, but you might think banning it altogether was a step too far. That is, until your child comes home from school begging to have one, just like their friends.

You may not have to imagine much longer. There is increasing evidence that such a product already exists and is wildly popular. It’s called a smartphone. Perhaps the most persuasive evidence yet is a paper published last month in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, based on a study of more than half a million American adolescents over five years. A team led by the psychology professor Jean M Twenge found that kids who used their smartphones for three hours or more a day were one-third more likely to feel hopeless or consider suicide, rising to nearly half of those who used such devices for five or more hours a day. Simply using social media daily was linked with a 13% higher incidence of depressive symptoms.

If this finding is replicated, the new French ban on kids from using their mobile phones at school will not be criticised for being over the top, but for not going far enough. A compelling case for completely banning kids having smartphones is a handful of scientific studies away.

If a ban strikes you as draconian, perhaps you’re being swayed by status quo bias. When something has been established as normal, the suggestion that it is in fact terrible always seems outlandish at first. That’s why it took so long for people to accept that slavery was an abomination, that women deserve equal rights, that restrictions on tobacco were necessary. It also explains why so many of us continue to eat inhumanely reared meat without a second thought or buy cheap goods produced in the developing world by virtual (and sometimes actual) slaves.

If we had a new gadget and we knew it was very dangerous for children, we would never allow companies to sell it to them. So why should it be any different with an old gadget whose harms have only recently become apparent?

Any attempted ban would inevitably provoke protestations about the “nanny state”. But when a nation decides to ban something, it need not be a matter of the government imposing its will on the people, but of the people deciding to restrict their own individual freedoms for their own and the common good. Wearing a seatbelt is compulsory because we know it is a good idea and are happy for the law to enforce what we might be too lazy always to choose for ourselves. Smoking under the age of 18 is illegal in Britain because we know that it would be much harder to stop our own children starting a long, slow suicide if their friends were freely doing just that.

Another stock objection is that a ban would be unenforcable. So is the ban on murder. Laws don’t stop bad behaviour, they make it more difficult and more costly, and that is enough.

Some will protest that smartphones are not harmful in themselves and that, used properly, they can actually do a lot of good. That’s true, as it is of cars and motorbikes. But we know that letting kids get behind the wheel is bound to result in even more road carnage than we have already. If we also know that giving them smartphones will inevitably create many casualties, that is just as good a reason not to do so.

It’s not as though such a ban will deprive kids of the good things smartphones offer them. “Dumber” phones could give them contactability, a pocket camera, music on the go, maps if they get lost and GPS to find them.

They could also still use social media at home, of course, but without the excesses of constant connectivity. Some will still spend more time online than is good for them, but like all legal restrictions, a ban on smartphones would be an exercise in harm reduction, not harm elimination.

It could even be argued that we ought not to wait for conclusive evidence of harm to bring in such a ban. The precautionary principle suggests that if the risks seem high enough, a temporary ban until they are accurately calculated is perfectly sensible. If it turns out smartphones are not so problematic, we have hardly damaged our kids by depriving them of an iPhone. Most of us grew up without so much as a mobile and I doubt that’s the reason why we’re all so screwed up.

There may not be an obvious flaw in the argument – but still I struggle with the notion of such a ban. However, considering its merits does at least focus the mind on just how blind we could be to the damage being done to the next generation. Whether or not the full force of the law ought to be brought into play, the time for seriously considering restricting kids’ access to smartphones has surely come.

Julian Baggini is a philosopher

Is it time to ban children from using smartphones? | Julian Baggini

Imagine the latest must-have item for kids was addictive and had a proven link with disrupted sleep, depression, low self-esteem and attempted suicide. You certainly wouldn’t buy one for your own offspring, but you might think banning it altogether was a step too far. That is, until your child comes home from school begging to have one, just like their friends.

You may not have to imagine much longer. There is increasing evidence that such a product already exists and is wildly popular. It’s called a smartphone. Perhaps the most persuasive evidence yet is a paper published last month in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, based on a study of more than half a million American adolescents over five years. A team led by the psychology professor Jean M Twenge found that kids who used their smartphones for three hours or more a day were one-third more likely to feel hopeless or consider suicide, rising to nearly half of those who used such devices for five or more hours a day. Simply using social media daily was linked with a 13% higher incidence of depressive symptoms.

If this finding is replicated, the new French ban on kids from using their mobile phones at school will not be criticised for being over the top, but for not going far enough. A compelling case for completely banning kids having smartphones is a handful of scientific studies away.

If a ban strikes you as draconian, perhaps you’re being swayed by status quo bias. When something has been established as normal, the suggestion that it is in fact terrible always seems outlandish at first. That’s why it took so long for people to accept that slavery was an abomination, that women deserve equal rights, that restrictions on tobacco were necessary. It also explains why so many of us continue to eat inhumanely reared meat without a second thought or buy cheap goods produced in the developing world by virtual (and sometimes actual) slaves.

If we had a new gadget and we knew it was very dangerous for children, we would never allow companies to sell it to them. So why should it be any different with an old gadget whose harms have only recently become apparent?

Any attempted ban would inevitably provoke protestations about the “nanny state”. But when a nation decides to ban something, it need not be a matter of the government imposing its will on the people, but of the people deciding to restrict their own individual freedoms for their own and the common good. Wearing a seatbelt is compulsory because we know it is a good idea and are happy for the law to enforce what we might be too lazy always to choose for ourselves. Smoking under the age of 18 is illegal in Britain because we know that it would be much harder to stop our own children starting a long, slow suicide if their friends were freely doing just that.

Another stock objection is that a ban would be unenforcable. So is the ban on murder. Laws don’t stop bad behaviour, they make it more difficult and more costly, and that is enough.

Some will protest that smartphones are not harmful in themselves and that, used properly, they can actually do a lot of good. That’s true, as it is of cars and motorbikes. But we know that letting kids get behind the wheel is bound to result in even more road carnage than we have already. If we also know that giving them smartphones will inevitably create many casualties, that is just as good a reason not to do so.

It’s not as though such a ban will deprive kids of the good things smartphones offer them. “Dumber” phones could give them contactability, a pocket camera, music on the go, maps if they get lost and GPS to find them.

They could also still use social media at home, of course, but without the excesses of constant connectivity. Some will still spend more time online than is good for them, but like all legal restrictions, a ban on smartphones would be an exercise in harm reduction, not harm elimination.

It could even be argued that we ought not to wait for conclusive evidence of harm to bring in such a ban. The precautionary principle suggests that if the risks seem high enough, a temporary ban until they are accurately calculated is perfectly sensible. If it turns out smartphones are not so problematic, we have hardly damaged our kids by depriving them of an iPhone. Most of us grew up without so much as a mobile and I doubt that’s the reason why we’re all so screwed up.

There may not be an obvious flaw in the argument – but still I struggle with the notion of such a ban. However, considering its merits does at least focus the mind on just how blind we could be to the damage being done to the next generation. Whether or not the full force of the law ought to be brought into play, the time for seriously considering restricting kids’ access to smartphones has surely come.

Julian Baggini is a philosopher