Nutritionist warns over sugar content in Easter eggs

Irish children will get an average of five Easter eggs this weekend in an annual sugar splurge that will see them eat their way through more than 160 tonnes of chocolate.

Nutritionist warns over sugar content in Easter eggs

Two in five children will get five eggs this Easter; 23% will get six to 10 eggs, while 12% will be given 10 to 15 eggs, an Irish Examiner /MummyPages.ie survey reveals.

The study, ‘Easter Egg Insights’, also showed the 941 mothers surveyed were worried about the sharp rise in chocolate consumption, but found it difficult to ask well-meaning relatives not to give presents of eggs.

Grandparents are the worst offenders. More than eight in 10 grandparents will give their grandchildren an egg, often an adult-sized version, which can contain up to 72 teaspoons of sugar — or almost 15 times the recommended daily intake of four to six teaspoons of sugar for children.

Some seven in 10 aunts and uncles will get in on the Easter egg act, along with two in five godparents.

It’s a chocolate-egg buyoff between relatives, says Eva Orsmond, of Operation Transformation fame.

“It’s almost like a competition between aunties to see who has brought the biggest egg,” said Dr Orsmond.

Her documentary earlier this year, Sugar Crash, examined the shocking toll sugar takes on our health. She said she was heartened to hear that 51% of people thought parents should be consulted before giving a child a gift of an Easter egg.

“I totally agree with that. It is a great idea to check in with the parent first to ask if chocolate is a suitable gift,” she said.

Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director, Human Health and Nutrition with Safefood, said that “temptation overload” posed another problem; supermarkets are now offering three Easter eggs for €5, which our survey found, puts more pressure on parents to buy and give chocolate.

She said that boring little word “moderation” had to come into it at a time when one in four Irish children starting school is obese.

She advised parents to look at the nutritional information on eggs and to think about giving smaller eggs. Four grams of sugar is the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar.

While Easter eggs sales are expected to top €36m this year, mum-in-residence at MummyPages.ie, Laura Haugh said that there was also evidence that parents are starting to cut down on chocolate. “Parents are now much more mindful of the health effects of eating too much sugar and they are more likely to consider alternatives to chocolate Easter eggs when giving gifts to children,” she said.

She said MummyPages had also launched a campaign to have the amount of sugar in food labelled in numbers of teaspoons to make it easier for consumers.

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