Sign up to our research news links service

SHEU Views the News July Sweets


SHEU Views the News - July Sweets

From the Schools and Students Health Education Unit (SHEU)

Reporting of children's sweet consumption and health risks

A recently reported research study assessed the diet of U.S. children and adolescents to determine the effects of sweet (candy) consumption and risk factors for heart disease. The study involved more than 11,000 2-18 year olds and used a variety of methods to assess dietary intake over a 24 hour period. The conclusion stated: "This study showed that approximately one-third of children and adolescents consumed candy (sweets) the day of the recall and that candy consumption was associated with higher intakes of energy and added sugars; chocolate candy consumption was also associated with higher total and SFA (saturated fatty acids) intake. Total, chocolate, and sugar candy consumption was not associated with weight/adiposity variables and candy consumers were less likely to be overweight or obese than non-candy consumers. Only chocolate candy consumers had a lower diet quality than non-consumers, but all individuals had poor diet quality regardless of whether they consumed candy. Current levels of candy consumption were not associated with adverse health parameters in children or adolescents."

The research project was partially supported by the National Confectioners' Association (NCA) and their spokesperson Alison Bodor, senior vice president of public policy and advocacy at NCA, was reported as saying, "Candy is a fun part of children’s lives ­ as a treat, in celebrations and for holidays. It’s not intended to replace nutrient-dense foods in the diet, but it certainly can provide moments of happiness within the context of a healthy lifestyle."

Following publication of the research there was particular interest in certain aspects of the study:
"Scientists say kids eating candy are less at risk to become overweight or obese."
... and ...
"Sweets are good for children and may stop them from getting fat in later life"
One of the comments in the Daily Mail article was reported to have come from Southampton-based dietitian Priya Tew. "It could be that children get used to treats but learn to have smaller portions and not have them every day," she said, adding: ‘I’d be interested to see how much exercise the children in the study carried out because it might be that the children who eat the most sweets run around the most."

NHS Choices provided a critique of the Daily Mail story and the original research study - "Are sweets 'good for kids'?"
The critique analysed the research commenting that: "The study has numerous limitations which seriously limit the conclusions that can be drawn," and, "... no assumptions should be made about the longer-term cardiovascular health or body weight of children who eat confectionery. It should not be concluded that children and adolescents who eat sweets or chocolate will be at lower risk of getting fat in later life or at lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The numerous health benefits of a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise are well established."

Despite the many limitations of the study design, as pointed out by the original researchers, the following comments caught our eye: "There were no differences in children regarding the likelihood to have a high quality diet, defined by the Healthy Eating Index - 2005 (80th percentile or better) ... among all three groups of candy consumers and non-consumers", and, "... all individuals had poor diet quality regardless of whether they consumed candy", and, "Overall, diet quality in this study was very poor in all groups, whether or not candy was consumed."

In this study, of over 11,000 young people in the U.S. who participated in the 1999­-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey should we be surprised that all of them were reported to have very poor diet quality or have we missed the point and got lost in the detail?

What do you think?

To comment on the above study please contact David McGeorge

The Schools and Students Health Education Unit (SHEU) data show a declining trend of young people who, between 1987 - 2010, reported that they ate sweets/chocolates/ biscuits "on most days". Males, aged between 14-15 years, report the highest levels of sweet consumption and females from the 10-11 and 12-13 year old age group report the lowest sweet consumption.

In 1977, SHEU began surveys with young people and we remain the specialist provider of pupil and student health related behaviour surveys



Comments about research links

"The research news has really interesting links, a welcome addition to SHEU's work, and forwarded to our HeadTeacher who is very committed to addressing the links between diet and behaviour."

Head of Family and Child Care

"The (research) emails are very helpful."

Healthy Schools Development Worker

"I find your emails very useful."

Assistant Director of Public Health

"Always interesting to read perspective you offer."

Learning Resources Manager

"Most helpful, thanks"

National Health Education Group member

"We all value your regular emails and appreciate their content."

PSHE & Citizenship Adviser

" ... emails from SHEU always have interesting pieces of research relating to young people."

Head of Health & Social Sciences

"I find the information very useful for my work."

SRE Consultant

"The emails from SHEU are a useful resource for planning the PSHE programme."

PSHE Consultant

"Please could you add me to your mailing list. I have a copy of your research news and am interested in these issues."

Welfare Adviser and Personal Tutor

"I find your site invaluable.Thanks so much for having all the information at this site."

Mental Health Nurse

"The (research emails) are very useful in my job as PSHE Coordinator and also for supporting the development of our onsite health centre."

PSHE Coordinator

"Yes please - I find the information extremely useful in my work here."

Head of Student Health

"Thank you for keeping us up to date with all the incredibly interesting and helpful information."

PSHE Manager

"I think the emails are really useful." 

SRE Consultant

"I welcome and value your updates and would like to continue receiving them."

School Health Adviser

"Please continue to send this bulletin it is very useful."

"I found this communication very useful."

Public Health Consultant

"... the information and resources are invaluable in helping to prepare our programmes and lessons for students and supporting the delivery team of staff."

Grammar School Headteacher

"... your health and wellbeing research links are always included in our PSHE network newsletter which goes out every half term to all our schools and colleges."

Principal Public Health Officer

"The research emails are very useful for our work as support tutors in Mental Health."

College tutor

"Thank you, I find this very useful!" 

Healthy College Co-ordinator

" I really value the excellent data and services provided by SHEU."

PSHE Consultant

"The (research emails) are very useful and all my team value the continuing opportunity to access the information provided in the updates."

C&YP Manager

"Thank you for the report. Can I say - it is really informative and interesting to read. Really helps with our school development."

PSHE Co-ordinator

"Many thanks, very useful."

Director of Student Progression

"I find the emails very informative."

Manager Children's Services

"I find this information extremely useful."

Healthy Schools Co-ordinator

"I regularly read your (research emails) and use them as resources."

Healthy College Coordinator

"My colleagues in the Health Improvement Dept find the (research emails) very useful and informative."

Health Improvement Manager

"Thank you for this, it is brilliant. I will circulate to others, and please continue to send."

Student Services Manager

"This is excellent. Thanks for a great resource."

Director of Student Services

"SHEU research is a wonderful tool and very useful to several of the teaching staff here plus the library research files. Keep up your amazing work."

School Librarian

"I know of no other similar way of quickly accessing research for children and young people across disciplines and sectors."


"SHEU's information is the most efficient and comprehensive way I have of keeping up to date with current issues and research about young people."

Health Teacher

"It is very useful to receive an overview of current research and to find an article about a topic that we are working on."

PSHE Manager

"Thanks again for all your help and responses to our endless requests for further (survey) support. I am really pleased to report that the SHEU data has been disseminated widely and is being used as we speak to re-direct service provision and commissioning across a range of services and topic areas. Thank-you!"

Public Health Commissioning Manager

"Very interesting digests."

Director of Equality and Diversity

"Can I say a very big thank you to all involved on your side. We really do appreciate what the project has allowed us to do, therefore allowing us to plan appropriately for our learning in PSH&CE. Thank you David for all your support and guidance here as well."

PSH&CE Advisor

"I glean so much useful information from the research emails."

PSHE Manager

"... it's easy to select from the list the links I am interested in, want to read more about, or want to forward to our team. The categories are useful... I have lifted findings or quotes into my training."

Manager PDP PSHE service

"I forward your E mail to relevant teachers eg. Food Tech, PE, PSE. Research news certainly assists us in keeping up to date with current trends. The age grouping is very useful."

School Librarian

" ... this is a really useful resource."

Health & Care Coordinator

"The emails are useful for me to keep an eye open for relevant research. Please keep them coming!"

Joint Commissioning Manager

"The information in the emails provides a useful perspective on a range of issues relating to the views of children and young people."

Senior Adviser C&YP

"I like the format, easy to read, links work!"

Research and Statistics Officer

"The Pastoral Team greatly value the up to date information that we receive from SHEU."

Vice Principal

"Thanks - very interesting. Please could I subscribe."

College Nurse

"I found it really easy to navigate and to follow links to get further information on topics which interested me. Congratulations on a good publication."

Health Improvement Manager

"This service is excellent."

"The email link system works good for me, no complaints. The links are relevant to my work and I use some of the information to pass on back to schools."

Healthy Schools Advisor

"They are excellent emails as they provide me with very relevant information and items for discussion in lessons."

Head of PSHCE

"Many thanks for sending the research news. It's a super resource - very interesting and informative."

Learning Adviser

"I use the information on this website to inform not just my planning for schemes of work and for lessons as part of my role as PSHE Co-ordinator but also for the planning of whole school issues."

PSHE Co-ordinator

"The (research emails) are an excellent way of keeping on top of current research relating to the health of young people - I find them really useful."

Health Advisor Children's Services

"I find these emails useful."

Assistant Principal Sixth Form College

"I would very much still like to receive your emails as I find them very useful. Many thanks for your continued support."

Health and Community Consultant

"Someone has forwarded your email which looks very interesting. Can I be put on your mailing list?"

Student Services Manager

"After many years I am retiring from my role as an educational consultant so will no longer require your resource. However many thanks for it as it has been most useful in helping to support my schools with all aspects of Health and Wellbeing."

Educational Consultant (retired)

"The breakdown of topic areas is good and all areas are relevant to my work. I use the information to update my knowledge, and disseminate at meetings or when working with school children."

Health Development Officer

"I find the information excellent as I facilitate health improvement work with young adults."

Health Improvement Nurse

"I do find this a really good resource."

Sexual Health Outreach Worker

" ... great source of information and research to follow up."

Healthy Schools Programme Co-ordinator

"I often use your research to back up the training I do for schools. Keep up the good work."

School Improvement Adviser

"Much of your output is outstanding and most is extremely useful."

PSHE Coordinator

"I find the emails very useful."

Healthy Schools Manager

"I find the (research emails) very helpful." x

PSHE Co-ordinator

"I would very much still like to receive the e-mails as they are extremely informative."

Health Officer Premier League Football Club

"Thank you for the ongoing support and information you share with us. I am very grateful for this support and would like to continue receiving these updates."

Deputy Headteacher Primary School

"I am very impressed with the content of the research news. Thank you very much indeed."

Health Improvement Officer

"The (research emails) always contain something I find interesting."

School Health Advisor

"We find them very useful for up to date news on resources and publications in young people research."

Public Health Intelligence Manager

"I share (the research emails) with schools developing their PSHE programmes."

Education Adviser

"Many thanks for this. It is incredibly useful!"

College Nurse

" ... the information is really useful in school."

Deputy Headteacher Primary School

"I find the research emails an invaluable source for keeping up-to-date with developments within the field."

Senior Lecturer

"They (Research News) are a wonderful resource to work with in my role as Connexions Health PA."

Connexions Personal Advisor

"The (research emails are) very useful to contribute to raising awareness on health issues across college to students and staff."

Director of Learning Support

"Still enjoying the emails and finding them very useful."

Drugs Advisor

"... the information is always brilliant!"

Personal Tutor

"The simple email-with-links-system works well for me and the links are extremely relevant for my line of work. I use the information to keep up to date with current health issues and research."

Healthy Schools Advisor

"Your research emails are really beneficial to our students."

Sixth Form College Senior Tutor

"I would just like to say that on behalf of students with learning disabilities, this is an excellent website...I have found it useful to show our E3 students." Team Leader Post 19 Supported Learning

Team Leader Post 19 Supported Learning