Diet blog: sickly sweet treats

Judith Wills / 11 October 2016

Diet expert Judith Wills despairs at the sugar levels in children’s diets.



I was in my nearest city, Hereford, the other day and walked down into the centre past what used to be a large-ish country clothes shop.  No longer.  It is now a vast cheap sweets emporium, stuffed to the gills with pink prawns, flying saucers, jawbreakers, cola bottles, jelly beans, sherbert, dolly mixtures, love hearts and hundreds more – and pretty stuffed to the gills with customers, too.

My short look inside brought back memories of my childhood when sweets, when rationing ended in 1953, were a threepence a week treat chosen from the few large glass jars in the corner shop to be savoured and certainly didn’t make us put on weight – we were almost all skinny as rakes in those days.  

Judith shares her memories of sugar rationing

But our grandchildren are fatter than ever before, with one in five 2-4 year olds and one in three 10-11 year olds obese.

Sugary snacks, sweets, cakes and drinks have been named on numerous occasions in the past few years as a major cause of this epidemic, with children downing up to 18 teaspoons of sugar a day and sugar intake nearly three times the recommended level, according to Public Health England.

And of course, apart from the obesity crisis in our young, sugar is also a major contributor to gum disease and tooth decay, as well as containing no useful nutrients.  Kids who eat a high sugar diet are at increased risk from vitamin and mineral deficiency health problems.

High sugar intake is also linked with diabetes Type 2, with the number of people diagnosed in the UK doubling since 1996.

Ten ways to eat less sugar

Yes, the Government intends to bring in a sugar tax in two years’ time but it has wimpishly decided against legislation to reduce sugar in foods and will instead rely on manufacturers doing so voluntarily.

All official measures to cut our sugar intake seem to be failing anyway – if the crowds in the new Hereford shop are anything to go by.

Maybe all sweets and high-sugar junk foods should be treated like cigarettes – hidden out of view and sold with labels declaring their health risks.

It takes only a few short weeks to completely beat sugar cravings – even better, if we fed our children and grandchildren whole fruits, such as apples and berries, and sweet nuts such as almonds and cashews instead of offering ‘goodies’ containing only sugar and artificial additives – maybe they wouldn’t become mini addicts in the first place.

Lightening fast banana balls

Apple, almond and raspberry energy bars

And maybe it’s a good thing Bake Off is going to Channel Four without its three best stars – as many people have said, it may not survive.  And then perhaps the nation will stop glorifying sugar laden cakes and desserts. The Great British Hake Off for fish lovers, anyone?

Talking of which, in case you hadn’t noticed, it was recently National Seafood Week, so I pushed the boat out and bought several fishy items from an online seafood store, selling local fresh fish delivered on ice.  They get great media reviews and indeed the brill fillets were very good but at £30 so they should have been!  Eight scallops (£11.20) described as large were four large, three medium and one small and broken.  The promised two portions of Cornish fish for new customers weren’t in the first box either but they did send two little mackerel fillets when I phoned to complain.

I think maybe it’s back to my local fishmonger or even the Aldi fish section.  But I did make a tasty light lunch for self and Husband with the scallops, which are a great source of heart-friendly vitamin B12 and protein; the photo shows his portion – mine was rather more tiny!

Judith Wills's scallops with chorizo

Scallops with Chorizo

Serves 2

  • 5cm piece chorizo, preferably cooking variety, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 large fresh scallops
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Handful fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

Heat a heavy based frying pan with the olive oil and add the chorizo.  Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the chorizo releases its fat (your oil will now be reddish).  Remove with slotted spatula, then increase the pan heat and  add the scallops.  Cook for 1 ½ minutes then turn over and cook for a further minute.  Serve the scallops and chorizo with the lemon juice squeezed over and the parsley to garnish.  You might want a little crusty bread to mop up the very tasty juices.

Find more stunning seafood recipes

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