Families in Staffordshire are being urged to download a new app to help improve their children’s health.
The new NHS Food Scanner App helps families to swap food and drink that are higher in sugar and saturated fat to healthier alternatives.
With a simple scan of the barcodes, families can see how much sugar, fat and salt is in everyday food and drinks. The app then suggests healthier swaps by encouraging users to choose “Good Choice” products, of which there are thousands to choose from.
The launch of the app comes on the back of a rise in obesity amongst children over the last school year, with the latest research highlighting that 1 in 4 children of reception school age are overweight or obese. This rises to 4 in 10 in Year 6 (ages 10 to 11).
Being an unhealthy weight can have serious implications for the physical and mental health of a child in the short and long term including being teased, suffering from low esteem and anxiety.
Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Staffordshire County Council said: “Making sure children and young people have access to healthier more nutritious food is really important and will help to keep them at a healthy weight. What children eat and drink during their early years can affect their health for many years to come. Most eating habits are also formed in the first few years of life, so it’s important that we encourage them to eat healthy and nutritious food. Children need a healthy balanced diet containing foods from each food group, so they get all the nutrition’ and vitamins their bodies need. Making sure they have their five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, along with keeping active, will all help them maintain a healthy weight.
“We know that parents doing the weekly shop may not have time to look at every product before they buy but the app will give them a quick and easy way of avoiding those unhealthy foods, whilst suggesting better alternatives.”
Research also shows that low levels of physical activity amongst children and young people increase the problems of poor diet and nutrition. Excluding school-based activities, children and young people aged between 5 and 15 should be at least moderately active for at least 60 minutes every day.
The Holiday Activities and Food Programme for children and young people also aims to increase physical activity and encourage good nutrition and healthy alternatives. The scheme is being co-ordinated by Staffordshire County Council and will run again during the Easter holiday.
People can download the free app from the App Store or Google Play or search ‘Better Health Healthier Families’