Nearly half of mothers believe their children are addicted to sugar - but most are unaware quite how much they're really consuming
Most mothers questioned were unaware of the high sugar content of everyday foods such as yoghurts and juice Photo: Alamy
Nearly half of mothers (46 per cent) believe their children may be addicted to sugar, according to a new poll conducted by Bupa.
Yet many of them were unaware of the true scale of the problem, with the majority uninformed about the high sugar content of everyday foods such as yoghurts and juice.
Even though 43 per cent of the 2,000 mothers questioned claimed to know how much sugar was in the food their children eat, when asked how much was contained in everyday lunchbox items, most had no real idea.
While 88 per cent of children have at least one yoghurt a day, 93 per cent of the mothers questioned weren't aware that a typical fat-free yoghurt contains five teaspoons of sugar
The research found that 77 per cent of children consumed at least one glass of fruit juice each day - but 94 per cent of mothers didn't know that the average amount of sugar in a typical glass of apple juice is 6.5 teaspoons.
Some 93 per cent of mothers had no idea that a typical glass of apple juice contains 6.5 teaspoons of sugar
According to Mumsnet editor Sarah Crowne, sugar consumption is a continual source of anxiety among parents: "There's a great deal of discussion on Mumsnet about how to feed your kids well - from coping with fussy toddlers to tips for cajoling refusenik teens into managing a sensible breakfast before school.
"Excessive sugar consumption is a perennial concern amongst our users - particularly with 'hidden' sugar popping up in everyday products such as pasta sauce and bread, not to mention the large quantities in some of the most popular children's yoghurts and fruit snacks.
"In an ideal world, obviously, we'd all shun jars and packets and cook perfectly-balanced meals from scratch every day - but the fact is that time and money constraints often make this impossible.
"As with most aspects of child-rearing, parents simply do their best: to be clued-up about nutrition, avoid the obvious sugar-laden pitfalls and try to strike a healthy balance when feeding their kids."
Yet, in spite of these concerns and efforts, 40 per cent of parents questioned in the new poll said they gave their children sweets, fizzy drinks or chocolate at least once a day.
Nearly 25 per cent surveyed said they placed sugary treats in their child’s lunchbox, with the top culprits being cakes, chocolate, crisps and fruit juice. Nearly a third of mothers believed that, as they gave their children healthy food, too much sugar wasn't an issue.
Nicole Mowbray, author of Sweet Nothing, an account of giving up sugar, says: 'While these figures are shocking, they're not surprising."
"Even though parents try their best, sugar lurks in so many of the foods we give our children, from the addition of fruit juice to savoury baby foods to make it more palatable, to the high quantities of sugar lurking in everyday sauces such as tomato ketchup, or this new idea that honey is in some way healthier, when it isn't.
"That's before you've even considered the amount of sugar given to youngsters in the form of 'treats'. Parents should use their pressure power to force manufacturers to start reducing the amount of sugars they add to food and drinks aimed at children.'
Too much sugar in a child’s diet can cause permanent damage to health, including increased risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. as well as severe damage to dental health.
Andrew Wallis, of Cornwall Council, said earlier in the year that tooth decay among children had reached epidemic proportions. In fact, the research was commissioned by Bupa to mark the launch of its Tooth Fairy campaign - parents can create a personalised video for their children at toothfairy.bupa.co.uk.
Bupa's Clinical Director of Dentistry, Dr Steve Preddy commented: “With 26,000 primary school children admitted to hospital for tooth decay in the past year, there is a need now more than ever, for parents to be paying attention to their child’s sugar consumption.
"The recent announcement from NICE has caused much debate amongst health and teaching authorities, however the most important thing to remember is tooth decay is preventable.
Parents need to be regularly looking at the nutritional information of food products; it is often what are thought of as healthy foods or unexpected ones."