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NHS Food Scanner App launches in bid to tackle childhood obesity

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young woman with glasses smiling
3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Father and son at the supermarket

The British government’s New Better Health campaign has launched a new NHS Food Scanner App today (10.01.2022) to make it easier for parents to provide their children with healthier diets.

The ‘scan, swipe and swap’ feature on the app intends to help parents find alternative food and drink options to products that are high in salt, sugar and fats. After scanning product barcodes, parents will be able to see healthier alternatives to products they normally buy, helping them swap to different options when they do their food shop.

A “Good Choice” badge is also used by the app to help users find goods which align with the latest recommended levels for intake of sugar, saturated fat and salt.

The government’s Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: 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.”

The launch of the new app follows the announcement of an all-time-high rise in childhood obesity since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The latest recorded data now shows that 27.7% of children in reception are overweight or obese, while over 40% of children ages 10-11 fit into this category.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, 60% of British parents has said they were giving their children snacks with higher levels of sugars and fats than they did before the pandemic.

A Netmums survey which was carried out with the DHSC also revealed that 64% of parents has said they would feel an app like  the NHS Food Scanner App could help them buy healthier food and drink for their children.

Chief Nutritionist at DHSC, Dr Alison Tedstone stated: “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.”

The government’s HFSS ban, will bring in a 9pm watershed for TV adverts for food and drinks with a high fat, salt and sugar content. Ads will also be banned online. As of October of this year, the hospitality industry will also have to show calorie information on menus and food labels, and retailers will see in-store promotions of HFSS food and drink being restricted.

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