government's campaign, diets of children

The UK Government launched a New Better Health campaign for children, with an NHS Food Scanner App for parents to use

The UK Government’s new campaign, New Better Health, aims to support parents in helping their children attain a healthy and balanced diet – combatting the rise of unhealthy snack consumption during the pandemic.

Families will be given support to help to improve the diets of their children, including a new feature on the NHS Food Scanner App, ‘scan, swipe and swap’. This will provide a guide for families working towards having healthier diets, on track with the Government’s Obesity Strategy.

Two thirds of parents giving more treats as snacks during pandemic

The campaign follows a record rise in obesity amongst children since the start of the pandemic, with latest data highlighting that one in four, or 27.7%, of children around reception school age are overweight or obese. This increases to 4 in 10, 40.9%, in Year 6 – ages 10-11.

The evidence shows that families purchased unhealthy food more during lockdowns, remaining above normal levels of food intake after lockdowns had ended.

A new survey conducted with Netmums showed that nearly 58% of parents give their children more sugary or fatty snacks than before the pandemic and 64% of parents said they often worry about how healthy their children’s snacks really are. Nearly 90% of parents said they would benefit from an App which would assist them in making healthier choices for their children.

Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: “We know that families have felt a lot of pressure throughout the pandemic which has drastically changed habits and routines. The new year is a good time for making resolutions, not just for ourselves, but for our families. Finding ways to improve their health is one of the best resolutions any of us could make.

“By downloading the free NHS Food Scanner App, families can swap out foods from the weekly shop for healthier alternatives and avoid items high in salt, sugar and saturated fat.”

Signposting consumers to foods that meet nutrient criteria

The NHS app allows families to scan the barcodes on their food or drink items and will suggest healthier alternatives, suggesting healthier foods to swap to when they shop.

The app uses a “Good Choice” badge to help signpost people to healthier food and drinks in line with the Government’s dietary recommendations for added sugar, saturated fat, and salt.

Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at DHSC said: “We are all aware of the increased pressures families have been under throughout the pandemic with children being stuck at home more. With advertising promoting unhealthy foods to kids, it’s not surprising that parents say they’ve often found it hard to resist pestering from their children for more unhealthy snacks, and that is why the NHS Food Scanner App is a great tool to help families make quick and easy healthier swaps.

“It’s so important that children reduce the amount of sugary, fatty and salty foods they eat to help them stay healthy and reduce the risk of health problems such as diabetes and tooth decay.”

“I had no idea some foods were so high in sugar”

Nadine Coyle added: “As a busy working mum, I find it hard to say no to my kid’s demands and often give in to “snack” pressure – even though I know it’s not that good for them. I had no idea some foods were so high in sugar, saturated fat and salt – so it’s great that the App gives you alternatives. I love using the NHS Food Scanner App and so does my daughter; she likes choosing the healthier swaps which is great – we are already making small changes through good food choices.”

Dr Linia Patel, Dietician said: “The NHS Food Scanner App is a fun way to get the kids involved in choosing healthier foods that they’ll love.”

“The NHS Food Scanner App is a fun way to get the kids involved in choosing healthier foods that they’ll love.”

The UK Government is regulating the promotion of unhealthy foods to children, dedicating around £100 million of funding to support children, adults and families achieve and maintain a healthier weight as part of their Obesity Strategy.


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