Schoolchildren from the Isle of Dogs have been taking part in an innovative experiment to test how much sugar is in packaged food as part of Tower Hamlets Change4Life campaign.
Fifteen youngsters from Cubitt Town Infant and Junior Schools in Manchester Road were on hand to test the app in a nearby supermarket using smart phones and Ipads at the campaign launch on Friday January 15.
Using the Sugar Smart app created in the context of the Change4Life campaign, the children were able to see how a simple barcode scan can tell the amount of sugar within any packaged food, e.g. a can of Coke contains nine cubes of sugar.
According to a council spokesman, children aged from four to 10-years old eat and drink more than 5,500 sugar cubes a year. The special ‘sugar swap’ app aims to promote healthier behaviour among children – like eating and drinking less sugar or selecting sugar-free options. It is part of a bigger initiative to get Tower Hamlets residents to eat healthily and be more active, so as to tackle the borough’s high obesity rate.
Councillor Amy Whitelock Gibbs said: “This Change4Life ‘sugar swap’ app is an excellent tool to help children and adults learn about sugar. We want families and children to have the information and support to eat more healthily.”
According to the council, the 2014-2015 National Child Measurement Programme survey showed that Tower Hamlets has some of the country’s most overweight and obese 10 to 11- year-olds. Over 1,000 children fall in this category, putting the borough’s childhood obesity rate around 10 per cent higher than the national average of 33 per cent.
Whitelock Gibbs added: “We are very aware of the dangers of obesity to children in Tower Hamlets for their health now and in the future, so bringing down the numbers of overweight children down is a key priority for us.”
The Council hopes that children will be encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables every day, have regular meals to avoid unhealthy eating habits, watch their meal sizes and limit snacking.
Community members like Anwar Haq from the local Nisa store near the Cubitt Town Schools said he was all in favour of the project.
“As a responsible local retailer, I believe strongly in promoting healthier food options to offer a wide range of affordable, quality produce and I welcome the support that this programme offers.”
The free Sugar Smart app is available on Google Play and iTunes.