Children to consume 460 tonnes of sugar this Easter

By June Shannon Policy News   |   26th Mar 2018

Irish children will consume at least five million Easter eggs or 460 tonnes of sugar this weekend

Monday, 26 March 2018

Irish children will consume at least five million Easter eggs or 460 tonnes of sugar this weekend, a new survey has found.

The poll of parents carried out by Empathy Research on behalf of the Irish Heart Foundation found that children here will receive an average of four eggs each over Easter, with almost one in five receiving six eggs or more. Just one medium sized Easter egg contains 23 teaspoons of sugar, which is almost four times a child’s recommended daily intake.

The results of this survey come a week after doctors at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin warned that 40 per cent of children presenting to the hospital’s specialist weight management service already had risk factors for heart disease.

 

“Easter eggs are a traditional treat and nobody is saying children shouldn’t get them,” said Janis Morrissey, head of health promotion with the Irish Heart Foundation. “The problem is overconsumption that is being driven by the pester power and temptation overload created by excessive marketing and clever promotions directed at children.”

“This is not a ‘bah humbug’ or spoilsport approach. Children’s health is being unnecessarily compromised by companies whose sole objective is to get them to consume as much chocolate as possible.

“And its important that we don’t view these marketing tactics in isolation. Easter Sunday is just another day in the incessant bombardment of children with slick junk food advertising that has distorted the notion of what a healthy diet should be.

“All this is happening in the midst of a child obesity crisis where children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure and young people showing early signs of heart disease once only seen in middle-aged men.”

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A total of 76 per cent of parents surveyed said that offering discounts on Easter eggs encouraged people to over-buy, while 70 per cent said retailers should not stock Easter eggs until much closer to Easter to lessen the pressure on parents. However, just 48 per cent said Easter eggs should be made smaller to reduce the amount of chocolate children consume.

The survey also found that 44 per cent of Easter eggs will be bought by parents and 56 per cent by friends and other family members.

The Government’s new voluntary code has done nothing to limit the gross irresponsibility of marketing ploys

Janis Morrissey, Head of Health Promotion , The Irish Heart

“As we predicted, the Government’s new voluntary code has done nothing to limit the gross irresponsibility of marketing ploys by a multinational industry whose sole purpose is to ensure that children eat as much of their unhealthy products as possible regardless of the short and long-term effects on their health,” added Ms Morrissey.

The Irish Heart Foundation is campaigning for regulations to prevent all junk food marketing directed at children. Its Stop Targeting Kids campaign calls for action by the Government to regulate digital marketing aimed at Irish children and to close loopholes in broadcast restrictions which mean that children still see over 1,000 junk food and drinks ads on television every year.

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