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Kids are having over 2 times more sugar than is recommended, with half of it coming from snacks and sugary drinks.

It can often be really difficult to know what a healthier choice might be– but we're here with all the info, tips and advice you need to help your family be healthier and happier.

Sugar facts and recommended daily amounts

The maximum recommended daily amounts of sugar are:

4 to 6 years old: 19 grams (5 cubes)

7 to 10 years old: 24 grams (6 cubes)

11 and older: 30 grams (7 cubes)

Added sugar

When we talk about added sugar, we mean sugar that has been added to food and drink to sweeten it.

This could be added by the manufacturer, by you if you're cooking at home, or by the chef or cook if you're eating out.

It's not just the white sugar you might think of on a teaspoon either: it includes fruit juice, honey, syrups and nectars too.

You do not need to worry about sugar in:

  • plain milk
  • plain yoghurts
  • whole fruit
  • whole vegetables

This is not added sugar – but remember to keep dried fruit to mealtimes to protect teeth!

The effects of too much sugar

Too much sugar is bad for children's health as it can lead to the build-up of harmful fat on the inside that we cannot see.

This fat can cause weight gain and serious diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Having too much sugar can also lead to painful tooth decay – every 10 minutes, a child in England has a tooth removed in hospital.

Cartoon character holding a magnifying glass over a yoghurt pot label. The label reads "6 cubes" and a mischievous "sugar critter" is sitting on top of the pot.

Try our sugar calculator

It's so easy for sugar to add up throughout the day. Use our simple sugar calculator to quickly check how much you and your family may be having each day.

Foods to watch out for

There can be a lot of sugar in everyday food and drinks. Do you know how much sugar is in these family favourites?

Juice drinks

They don't have salt or fat, but 1 juice pouch has 2 cubes of sugar.


Believe it or not, a pot of sugary yoghurt contains up to 6 cubes of sugar!

Cereal bars

We tend to think of these as a healthier option, but a single bar has 3 cubes of sugar.

Fun-sized sweets

The packet may be small, but it still contains 5 cubes of sugar.

Ice cream

There are up to 5 cubes of sugar in an ice cream.

Chocolate bars

Yikes! A single chocolate bar has a whopping 6 cubes of sugar. That's the entire day's allowance for a 10-year-old!

Other foods to watch out for

Along with these items, kids in general are also getting a lot of sugar from:

  • fizzy drinks
  • buns
  • cakes
  • pastries
  • biscuits
  • breakfast cereals

How to cut down on sugar

Even if you know what to look out for when it comes to sugary food, it can often be really difficult to know what to do instead.

Here are some simple tips and tricks to point you in the right direction, both at home or when shopping.

Reduce sugar at home

Juice and smoothies

Fruit juice only counts as 1 of your 5 A Day, no matter how much or how many different types you have. So limit it to no more than 150ml a day – and keep it to mealtimes, as juice can cause tooth decay.

DIY snacks

Ask your kids to help prepare healthier snacks from a selection of fruit, low-sugar cereal and unsalted nuts. It's a fun thing to do together, and they're more likely to eat it if they've made it.
See homemade snack ideas

Go bananas!

Try adding a sliced banana to wholewheat cereal biscuits or low-fat, lower-sugar yoghurt. You can also use it as a healthy topping for toast – a great way to get 1 of your 5 A Day.

Drink smart

A quarter of the sugar kids have every day comes from sugary drinks. Swap soft drinks, juice and flavoured milks for water, lower-fat milks and diet, sugar-free, or no added sugar drinks.
More healthier food swaps

Liven up your yoghurt

Low-fat, lower-sugar yoghurt topped with chopped fruit or berries makes a great dessert, and saves loads of sugar over typical yoghurts, ice cream or other sugary puddings. Counting towards your 5 A Day is another bonus!

Shop smart!

Make a Good choice

Look out for the "Good choice" badge in store and when shopping online to quickly find better options.

Check the label

Many products have traffic light labels on the front of packs, which can be a really useful guide. Pick items with more greens and ambers, and cut down on ones with any reds.

Scan and know

Use the free NHS Food Scanner app to see how much sugar is in your favourite food or drink, and get suggestions for healthier swaps!

Bigger is not better

The big bottles of fizzy drinks and juice may seem like a good deal, but you're just getting more sugar! Go for water, lower-fat milks, sugar-free or no added sugar drinks instead.

Leave it on the shelf

It's the simplest trick in the book. If you do not have sugary sweets and treats in the house, you will not be able to eat them!

Make a healthier food swap!

See simple food swap ideas to help cut down on sugar, salt and fat in your and your family's diet – plus easy ways to make a swap when you next shop!

Download the free NHS Food Scanner app

With a speedy scan of your family's favourite foods, you can find healthier swaps for next time you shop.

It's as easy as scan, swipe, swap!

The nutrient data provided in the app is supplied by Brandbank and FoodSwitch