New Sugar App Ain’t So Sweet

By Alexandra Hodgson – Online Editor 


 

There is a new app on the market that parents are being urged to use as it checks the sugar content of anything that your children are consuming. All you need to do is scan the bar code and you’ll be able to see how much sugar content you find in each product.

I’m not sure how much help this app will be for the parent determined to keep their child quiet and happy by giving them sweets. Is this who the app is aimed at? Of course, to properly talk about this I had to download the app. As an ex dental nurse I found it quite patronising, as to me, it’s pretty obvious which products have sugar in and which don’t.

Products with a surprising amount of sugar in tend to be brown bread, and so-called healthy fruit juice that has a lot more sugar content in than you would expect. I know from experience that anyone who has health issues relating to sugar content i.e. they suffer from tooth decay or diabetes, will receive pamphlets that explain about the hidden sugars they need to watch out for.

The app is a great idea in theory. Once downloaded, I believe, if you actually used it for a couple of days then there would be no need to use it again, because you would then have retained the knowledge. The tall glass of orange juice you’re consuming with your breakfast leaves you with not much room to consume any more sugar for the rest of your day (5 sugar cubes of your 7 sugar cube allowance).

Making the consumer more aware of the content of what they’re eating or drinking is definitely a plus. However, with the contents so visually prominent on many products now, how much more aware is this making people? Surely we know by now that a fizzy drink is not good for us at all. When we make the choice to eat those donuts or to drink that bottle of Coca Cola we are not particularly being health conscious or caring about what we’re consuming. We’re eating it because we want to, we’re having a rubbish day, or feel like having a treat.

It’s great to have all this extra awareness and information in recent times. I’m just not sure that an app like this will help target childhood obesity at all, or prevent the rising climb of little ones with tooth decay that need to be put under anesthetic to have a tooth removed. To be honest, it breaks my heart.

Something I learnt when I was a dental nurse is that as far as your teeth are concerned it matters how many times a day you consume sugar, rather than the amount. If you make sure you have a breakfast that’s sugar free and children consume a sugary treat after lunch and after dinner (two intakes a day) they will never need a tooth removed (unless they suffer from poor genetics). Allowing children to graze on sweets, chocolate or sugary drinks throughout the day will do far more damage than letting them indulge in a mini sugar binge at a birthday party.

If this app can help people and help prevent rising health conditions, then that’s amazing. Our hearts wish it could be that easy. The more the merrier in the bid to raise awareness and tackle obesity. However, I don’t believe this will be the case. Whilst using the app on some items in my cupboard, I found that there were no shocking discoveries for myself – so I personally won’t be using it again. I may however, let the children use it themselves. I think the gimmick of being able to scan bar codes and the bright colours would be perfect in educating children on what an acceptable amount of sugar is per day.

I personally feel the key to tackling obesity in this country is for children to be made more aware and receive more education from as young an age that they can understand. Children should be able to know themselves, as a Mum I know only too well that if they don’t want something to pass their lips they won’t allow it. So educating them to choose well for themselves I feel is the way forward. Market this app for the younger generation and maybe you’ll be on to a winner.

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