A UK government health app will be updated to include a ‘scan, swipe and swap’ feature which will use barcodes to encourage families to switch to healthier food.
The new feature which was announced today (January 10) as part of the UK government’s Better Health campaign, will allow users to scan shopping items and suggest alternatives with less saturated fat, sugar or salt.
The app will also use “Good Choice” badges to help signpost people to healthier food and drinks in line with the government’s dietary recommendations for added sugar, saturated fat and salt.
Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said:”We know that families have felt a lot of pressure throughout the pandemic which has 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.”
This comes following a record rise in obesity amongst children since the start of the pandemic. The latest data suggests that one in four children of reception school age are overweight or obese. This rises to four in 10 (40.9%) in Year 6 (ages 10-11), according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
A survey conducted with Netmums showed that six in 10 parents give their children more sugary or fatty snacks than before the pandemic and nearly two-thirds of parents said they often worry about how healthy their children’s snacks really are.
Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at the DHSC, said advertisements promoting unhealthy food to children were contributing to the problem.
“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.”
‘Girls Aloud’ member Nadine Coyle, who has backed the campaign, trialled the NHS Food Scanner App.
She said: “As a busy working mum, I find it hard to say no to my kid’s demands and often give in to ‘snack’ pressure, even though I know it’s not that good for them. I had no idea some foods were so high in sugar, saturated fat and salt, so it’s great that the app gives you alternatives.
“I love using the NHS Food Scanner App and so does my daughter; she likes choosing the healthier swaps which is great, we are already making small changes through good food choices.”