Parents have been urged to stop their children eating cereals with high sugar content after a study highlighted the dangers of their everyday foods.
The study claims children have on average already eaten more sugar than the maximum amount recommended for an 18-year-old by the time they reach their 10th birthday.
Public Health England (PHE) said the average 10-year-old has consumed at least 138kg of sugar by the time they reach adulthood.
The data, gathered from household eating habits in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, was released as PHE offers parents tips on how to get youngsters eating less sugar.
The recommended maximum amount of sugar for 10-year-olds is 20-24 grammes a day.
But according to the PHE’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, children are consuming an average of 52.2 grammes a day, based on consumption from the age of two – the equivalent to 13 cubes a day, eight more than the recommended level.
The Change4Life campaign is encouraging parents to change their shopping habits, while PHE said making different choices of yoghurts, drinks and cereals could cut a child’s sugar intake by half.
PHE said food and beverage manufacturers have also responded to calls for lower sugar content, making it easier for parents to find alternative options.
In May last year, the Government health agency published its report on progress towards a first-year sugar reduction ambition of 5%, showing an average 2% cut across categories for retailers and manufacturers.
Switching to low-sugar options could cut intake by as much as 2,500 sugar cubes per year from a child’s diet.
The Change4Life campaign is launching as severe obesity in children aged 10-11 hits an all-time high, PHE said.
A third of youngsters are leaving primary school overweight or obese, and more young people than ever are developing Type-2 diabetes.
Children who are overweight are also more likely to remain so into adulthood, and are at higher risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers.
Alison Tedstone, PHE chief nutritionist, said: ‘Children are consuming too much sugar, but parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years.
‘To make this easier for busy families, Change4Life is offering a straightforward solution – by making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.’
Families are encouraged to look for the Change4Life Good Choice badge on products in shops, and can download a free app to identify lower-sugar options.
Campaign group ‘Against Sugar Tax‘ questioned the figures, describing them as ‘fake news’.
They said: ‘The real reason why children are consuming twice as much sugar as recommended is because the Government arbitrarily halved the recommended daily limit for sugar in 2015.’