Families will be given support to help to improve the diets of their children through a new campaign as new statistics reveal the number of parents giving unhealthy snacks to their children has increased during the pandemic.
The NHS Food Scanner App has been updated as part of the Better Health campaign, which has been launched to encourage families to eat better. The App includes a new ‘scan, swipe and swap’ feature which provides a simple solution to help families maintain a healthier diet.
The easy-to-use NHS app is free to download from the App Store or Google Play and identifies foods and drinks that are high in sugar, saturated fat and salt and offers healthier alternatives by simply scanning a product’s barcode.
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.
The campaign comes on the back of a record rise in obesity amongst children since the start of the pandemic, with latest data highlighting that nearly 26% of South Asian children of reception school age are overweight or obese, rising to 46% in Year 6 (ages 10-11).
Mother of two Afsana Begum, has been using the NHS Food Scanner App in a conscious effort to make healthier food choices for her young family, says: “The Food Scanner is a great way to find out what is hidden in the foods we eat but also for finding healthier alternatives,” she explains. “I love the barcode scanner, which lets you scan a product and see exactly what it has in it.”
A new survey conducted by Netmums, focusing on children’s nutrition, revealed that 66% of Asian parents give their children more sugary or fatty snacks than before the pandemic and 76% said they worry about how healthy their children’s snacks really are.
Many Asian parents (45%) said they find it hard to say no to their children when they pester them for snacks, and that crisps or chocolate were the snacks they were most likely to give them.
When asked about the biggest barriers to their children eating more healthily, Asian parents cited their children’s fussy eating habits, being pestered for unhealthy snacks, and a lack of time spent with their children due to work or school. The survey also found that 93% of Asian parents said that they would benefit from an app to help them make better food choices for their children.
Mother of two Priya Taneja, who has been using the app and discovering its many benefits, says: “I love that it gives me healthy lunch box ideas and nutrition packed recipes, which makes meal planning so much easier.”
At first Priya thought the app was just about scanning products but she quickly realised it has much more to offer with its healthier swaps function. “It has helped me become knowledgeable and conscious about what I will be purchasing going forward.”
The government recently established the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities which is focused on addressing inequalities and levelling up health across the country – including through work to tackle obesity and the drivers of poor health.
Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: “We know that families have felt a lot of pressure from the pandemic which 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.”
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at the Department of Health and Social Care, 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.”
Award-winning Dietitian Azmina Govindji said: “Parents have limited time yet want the best for their children. The NHS Food Scanner App is a fun way to get the kids interested in making healthier choices. It’s easy to use and helps families choose snacks and drinks that are lower in sugar, saturated fat and salt – in just a few seconds!”
The NHS Food Scanner App provides South Asian parents with an easy way to improve their children’s health in 2022. Download the free app from the App Store or Google Play or search ‘Food Scanner App’.
For more information, visit http://www.nhs.uk/better-health/food-scanner