Sugar has again hit the headlines, with disturbing figures from Public Health England (PHE) showing that children in the UK are eating half their daily recommended sugar intake at breakfast before they even get to school.

Kids are eating too much sugar

The PHE/Netmums survey found that kids aged 4 to 10 years are eating up to 50% more than the daily recommended limit of 10% of a person’s daily energy intake. Change4Life recommends ‘simple’ sugar swaps but we say that these are only a small part of the overall health solution needed.

Big Food encourages addiction

A major contributor to the increase in sugar consumption and addiction is the introduction of and reliance on, processed foods and sugar sweetened beverages along with the shift away from unprocessed home cooked foods using natural ingredients. This sugar drive seriously got into gear in the post-WWII period following the deprivation of the war years.  As prices for refined sugar grew following the war, new sources were looked for which saw the introduction of cheap High Fructose Corn Syrup in the 1970s. We then saw a higher proportion of mums going back to work and strong demand for easy, convenient food options. This triggered the increased availability of highly processed foods and the beginnings of the current health crisis with Big Food square and centre as the originator of the foods that cause the bulk of the disease burden in contemporary, Western societies.

The drive by Big Food towards sugar and processed foods as seen in advertising from the 1950s and ‘60s with its emphasis on the supposed ‘health’ benefits of sugar shows clearly just how calculated the approach to sugar addiction has been.

Here are a few examples that show just how young the targets of sugar advertising were in the post-WW II period – as well as how unashamed the ‘educational tone’ was:

The reality of what people were eating was a little different with suggested breakfasts of scrambled eggs, bacon and tomatoes, fish cakes, grilled bacon and potato slices, porridge, boiled eggs and kippers, all much more sustaining and nutritious!

Imagine if ads were like this today…… Actually, it’s not as different as one might think. While it might be less brazen, it may actually be more insidious. Check out the following as modern day examples:

Fruit Loops sold in the USA contain trivial amounts of fruits in powdered form.  Worse than this, some variants are labelled as ‘wholegrain’ which is seen as healthy, yet consumers are not told that the wholegrains are so highly processed they create more or less the same blood sugar response as pure sugar. This is not just our opinion, but that of the world’s foremost glycaemic index/load researcher, Professor Jennie Brand-Miller from Sydney University.

Coca-Cola no longer targets very young children (or their parents) directly. But it does it indirectly, using celebrity endorsement to convey that those the young look to as role models, such as Taylor Swift, are associated with the beverage (we’ve used links to images so as not to infringe copyright).

Taylor Swift for Coca-Cola

Taylor Swift for Coca-Cola

Given what we know about the science of sugar and highly processed cereals, the following is what we think modern day educational advertisements should look like. We’ll be pushing these out via social media and we’re looking for your help in getting these to a much wider public.

Sugar is only a part of the problem

Whilst there is more and more recognition that sugar is central to the current issue, as always, it’s a vast over-simplification. More than this, if we only focus on sugar, and we continue to focus on limited other so-called problem ingredients like salt and saturated fat, as a society we’ll have little or no impact on the growing chronic disease crisis. Eating energy dense rather than nutrient dense foods, such as processed breakfast cereals that are both high in sugar and highly processed carbohydrates (even wholegrain ones), means that kids are not getting the right balance of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and plant-derived nutrients) they need to grow and develop properly.

The more balanced and varied breakfast recommendations of the ‘50s and ‘60s were rapidly replaced with the easy option of sugar-laden breakfast cereals that didn’t require any cooking or preparation time. Like today, if the cereals weren’t already sugared, a sugar bowl was always close at hand!

We have been told for decades, Kellogg’s being one of the main protagonists of this view, that breakfast is a child’s most important meal. High glycaemic load (GL), highly processed foods devoid of nutrients create a spike in blood sugar, an increase in insulin levels followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar levels leading to tiredness, lack of concentration and sugar cravings.

We developed the ANH Food4Health Children’s Guidelines to provide information about the balance of nutrients that children require during critical stages of their growth and development – and cutting down on sugar, saturated fat and salt – the key premise of the UK government’s Change4Life campaign, just won’t make much of a difference! What’s more, the real villains in the piece, Big Food, will be left to continue to deliver its highly processed foods that are at the heart (pun intended) of the problem.

As part of the Change4Life campaign PHE has introduced the Be Food Smart app to help parents and kids to check how healthy the food they’re buying is. Whilst the concept is a good one, the app fails because it only considers sugar, salt and saturated fat content of food. Put simply, the app remains in the ‘dark ages’ of nutritional science and fails to take into account the importance of key factors such as macronutrient and micronutrient balance, or nutrient density and diversity.  It doesn’t consider any of the good or beneficial nutrients in a food and doesn’t differentiate between nutrient dense and energy dense foods.  This leaves the consumer to make a choice of whether or not to buy the food allowing for them to continue to make unhealthy choices.

Let’s give you an example.  We scanned a bottle of extra virgin olive oil sold through a major supermarket chain.  The app gave it a thumbs down by providing an off-putting moving graphic of dolloping fat and a red light for the supposedly high saturated fat content (14g/100 ml). The app did not take account of the fact that olive oil also contains high levels of monounsaturated fats (70g monounstaurated fat/ 100ml) and a child may not indulge in more than one or two tablespoons of the stuff in a day. This represents a very healthy fat intake! Butter was similarly given a bad rap for its high saturated fat content. Let Zoë Harcombe PhD explain why saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease.

How can you feed your kids better in the morning?

 Let’s get down to some solutions.

Cereals for breakfast found favour because they’re so convenient. But there are ways of eating healthy gluten-free cereals. There are also other options – and enough to create real variations in a child’s diet.

To help those with young kids, we’ve put together some recipe ideas for you to try that are quick, easy and healthful. The recipes cover 5 main gluten-free breakfast styles: cereals, porridge/oatmeal based, fruit based, egg based and bread based.

[Please click the table to download the recipe booklet.]

* With our sincere thanks to Amelia Freer FdSc, Dip ION, author of “Cook. Nourish. Glow.” for her recipe contributions.

The real problem we have with kid’s breakfasts is the wide acceptance of readily available, highly processed, refined, high sugar, low-nutrient density and diversity, convenience foods and the continued influence of Big Food in the design of Government Eating Guidelines. At the end of the day, where’s the profit if we were all to turn to unprocessed foods! Although it takes a little more time, providing healthy options for your family is actually not as inconvenient or difficult as you may think. It just requires a little organisation and forward planning whilst involving the kids can teach them good habits to keep them healthy through their life as well as improving their compliance with the changes you make.

 

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Comments

  1. This article is about yet another form of child abuse? Fake Food is abusing children both mentally and physically. Fake Food (and drink) is high sugar, lack of nutrients, enzyme deficient, and denatured junk in every way.
    Fake food damages the brain and damages the body of the foetus in the womb and then leads to premature death any time in the future.
    Prof Philip James, head of the International Obesity Task Force, said nearly 20 years ago that the obesity crisis is “out of control” and that the next generation of parents would be burying their children in rising numbers. He obviously had not made the link between Fake Food and lack of mental capacity and realised it is not obesity that is the problem but the Fake Food that causes that physical and mental incapacity.

    How does the advert go? The Future Is Bright? The truth is, The Future Is Fake unless we can help the brain and physically damaged population to recover enough to see that everything is becoming fake. Then they may stop nutritionally abusing their children.

    Where will it end?
    Fake Food, Fake Science, Fake Experts, Fake Charities, Fake Jobs, Fake Money, Fake Love, Fake Leaders, Fake Guidelines, Fake Glycaemic Load (designed to confuse as opposed to Glycaemic Index as the best Ketogenic Guide), Fake Healthcare (really disease care), Fake Medicine, Fake Economy, Fake Pensions, Fake Fish (as in farmed), Fake Ageing (really caused by Fake Food, Fake Exercise and LifeStyle), and not forgetting FAKE NEWS.

    Come on ANH, you are leaders and while you are getting a little more stronger with your messages of late you need to up your game and set some goals such as a monthly subscription Magazine. If I can do it with my ‘Naturally Healthy News’ worldwide magazine I am sure you can do even better. I can help you do the same and get your message into the hands of millions.
    There is no time to lose.

    1. Child abuse it is for sure, Robert. All with the seal of approval of governments. Not entirely sure that differentiating fake from natural solves all the issues – as a lot of the sugar the kids are being given is natural (e.g. sugar cane, sugar beet) it causes around the same level of mischief in the child (or adult) body as the unnatural, GMO corn sourced varieties (e.g. high fructose corn syrup), barring liver impacts of high fructose.

      Robert, as you may or may not know, we do an enormous amount of work that we don’t and can’t publicise. It’s a proper battlefront out there keeping products and services available in the UK and EU with a regulatory climate that’s been purposely built to discriminate against natural health. The vested interests responsible for the status quo require a regulatory, political and social climate that favours drugs and vaccines, and a constant stream of people with the right kinds of diseases that create the market for these products. Since the patented drug industry got going post-WWII there has been a conscious effort by the medical and pharmaceutical establishment to avoid trying to prevent or cure the real money-making diseases like many types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. We can add dementia and autism to the list now.

      Our free weekly eAlerts provide a small window into some of the work we do – that part of which we can publicise. The rest of it is below the radar – part of a guerrilla strategy given the forces we’re all up against. We recall you moved your own operation a few years back out of the EU to avoid the battlefront here – we’re still in the thick of it. So please don’t judge all we do via our eAlerts only. We are funded solely on donations and as an independent non-profit we would rather communicate information freely without any kind of a monthly subscription. Most of our reach is now through social media channels but we’re very open to other ways you might help us disseminate information. Would you, for instance, be up for syndicating our articles via your own newsletter, simply acknowledging ANH International and linking to the original articles? We’d also be up for your help in getting our calls to action to your newsletter/customer base where this was relevant. We’d be happy to pick this up offline.

  2. excellent article – thank you. years ago, we introduced our son to a bowl of steamed vegetables dressed in coconut oil + Himalayan salt plus a small serving of organic meat or fish for breakfast. he drinks glass of water too. he never complained once and always goes back to it happily after holidays which feature large breakfast buffets with American cereals. we allow him to eat these when we are on holiday, because we don’t want to start the day arguing with him and he needs to learn to make choices. But at home he has the vegetable option and is very happy with it. very good concentration at school and very good academic performance too.

  3. Excellent article and recipe suggestions. As the nation gets fatter, people are finally waking up to the problem we face. Robert is right, everything is fake. Fake and false information, the joke official eatwell plate, poor dietary advice for health conditions etc. We need more information on nutrition and teaching kids to cook real food at school as we now have generations of people with no real cooking skills as they have inherited none from their parents.

    It takes extra time to make a nutritious breakfast, but we all need to make the time. Chia pots, breakfast muffins and stewed fruit can be made beforehand.

  4. Is there a direct relationship between our state of consciousness and our diet?
    And then a feedback loop of dietary effects as reinforcement of that consciousness?
    Is this not addiction to guilt – albeit in socially accepted or normalised forms?
    Do those who feel crap about themselves bring on their own self-abuse – albeit often in ways that are plausibly deniable and blame-able on others?
    Is there not a role to the narrative mind of self-justification, that works to justify a sense of withholding of engaged presence, attention and desire, and a withdrawal from relationship and communication to a sense of lack, inadequacy, deprivation, and denial?

    In short is there not a spiritual depression or sense of loss of spirit underneath all else that is grown or adapted to operate as a substitute for the real thing?

    I see that this is so – and yet also that the false – or fearfully defined and guilted or shamed sense of self-inadequacy – attracts all the power and protection of defence and allegiance due unto the true. Just as when a parasite or disease co-opts the body’s defences to serve its agenda at expense of true function.

    Note that the deceits of false witness – as propaganda or advertising persuasion techniques – work to nurture and exploit a tried and tested psychology of manipulative intent. The TV – and other ‘communication’ devices operate a trojan horse into the homes and minds of the many – not unlike vaccinations – for there is no barrier to their payload of coercive deceit.

    Our primary diet is the ideas or thought by which we defined and believe ourself and world to be – and act or react from, automatically. False currency of a falsely framed thinking is mirrored in the so called ‘Economy’ which is coercive deceit masking behind the presentation of a financial system.

    If a passively unwary, acquiescent, domesticated and managed humanity consents to be farmed for sickness and servitude, the flipside is that ‘The Economy’ aka ‘too big to fail’ Corporate Cartels, simply cannot afford the truth about pharmaceutical and many other evils to come to light – regardless the cost in pain and misery.

    When truth of being thus deceived reveals itself as one’s personal experience or recognition – there is a great sense of betrayal of trust which itself can trigger hate and anger – and lead to breakdown of communication rather than awakening health – which is synonymous with restored communication.

    When we dropped grain and cereal breakfast – it was within a willingness to open our mind – and our pallet of experiencing – to a wider range of textures and flavours. Breaking sub-consciously conditioned habits by making new discoveries in new willingness. So much ‘health’ consciousness is guilt and fear driven. That is key to seeing how a negatively defined consciousness masks as a positive sense of self and society. It’s not so much an evil as mis-identification. But outcomes of evil or anti-life come from persisting such identity – particularly once the dissonance of falsity is being ignored and overridden.

  5. I think this is an excellent article and great work in pushing the real health and nutrition message forward.

    There is no doubt, that any changes to the way individuals eat within the UK and USA, especially at breakfast, is going to require extremely strong intervention and motivation.

    All of the highly processed food items (which includes table sugar), are unbelievably profitable and according to the tharawat magazines article based on Plunkett Research (2015), the global food and beverage industry was reported to be worth “$7.8 trillion, about 10% of the worlds GDP!

    Some of the main companies that rely on Sugar and HFCS are: Mondelez International, Mars, ADM, the Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Nestlé. There making fortunes and its down to supply and demand! Therefore individuals need to learn to make choices and realize that they are dramatically harming their children’s health as well as their own, and when sales plummet for the need for sugar and other dangerous additives and chemicals in food, the market will also change. Additionally, crossing swords with these giants is risky, as the late Dr John Yudkin discovered after publication of his book, Pure, White and Deadly.

    Another main point; rubbish food and drink needs to go up in price, possibly though taxation, which should then go towards subsidising heathy fresh food (not into Government funds).

    In many ways, in order to pass a University nutrition qualification in the UK, you are required to keep the content in line with outdated and in many ways incorrect theories, or at least stay in line with the Dietary References Values for Food, or the unbelievable misconceptions regarding the Food Pyramid / Eat Well Plate and the notion that sugar may harm teeth (really)! Things need to change and it will take lots of effort and time, but in the end change will happen.

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