Parents should replace juice and fizzy drinks with jugs of water at mealtimes to reduce children's sugar intake and cut their risk of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, diet experts have advised.
Senior health scientists said sugar-sweetened drinks were the biggest source of sugar intake across all ages, but were a particular problem among children and teenagers. Drinks such as soft drink should be considered treats, they said, adding that, along with milk for young children, "just a jug of water" was all families should be serving at dinner.
Despite recent calls for a tax on sugary drinks and cuts to sugar content in everyday foods, Susan Jebb, a professor of diet and population health at Oxford University, said that "very simple advice" to parents could play an even bigger part in improving children's diets.
"Drink water - that's the very simple advice to parents," she said.
"Encourage your children to drink water. Once they've been weaned, children ought to be drinking water. There is a whole range of drinks out there, [but] I don't need to encourage people to be drinking any of the others."
Around one in five children in the UK is obese, while roughly one-third are overweight. Sugary drinks were an important "target" for combating the problem, Professor Jebb said, with clear links between their consumption and the risk of weight gain.
- The Independent