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Here's why nutritional information on children's sweets is actually for adults

And it’s going to stay that way.

Image: Jo@net via Flickr/Creative Commons

ALTHOUGH ADULTS MAY still enjoy the occasional Dip-dap, Jelly Tot, or Milky Way, these products are mainly marketed towards children.

However, in most cases the nutritional information the packet does not reflect this. The guidelines are often geared towards adults rather than young children.

Independent TD Clare Daly raised the issue with the Minister for Children James Reilly in the Dáil, speaking of ”the need to have nutritional information on confectionery products, documented in a manner as a percentage of a child’s daily intake rather than a percentage of an adult’s daily intake”.

For example, the guideline daily amount (GDA) of sugar in Ireland is 90 grams, but is far lower for children.

Minister Reilly responded:

“The calorie intake required by children varies enormously by age and gender and activity levels.”

A relatively sedentary 5-year-old girl will require around 1200 calories, whilst an active teenage boy may require 3000 calories per day, making the calculation of the percentage it contributes a particular daily total for a child or young person complex.

Guidelines for sugar also vary greatly for age, from 20 grams for a zero to one year old, 17 grams for zero to three, and down again to 12.5 for those aged between four and eight years.

“Confectionery should, ideally, not form part of any child’s everyday diet, and be seen as an occasional treat,” Reilly added, and noted that the Department of Health is currently in the process of drawing up new guidelines on health eating for children.

Although having a healthier diet across the board is a key goal, the World Health Organisation is particularly concerned with the developed world’s high sugar intake.

Ireland’s GDA of 90 grams is almost double what WHO would like to see consumed. It recommended in March that adults and children should ensure their daily intake is no more than 50 grams, and – if possible – reduce this further to just 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons.

The agency director for health and nutrition development said there is ”solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay”.

Read: Five terrible eating habits you need to stamp out >

More: 21 things that taste like every Irish person’s childhood >

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Nicky Ryan

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