The government has unveiled its new Better Health campaign which includes a new NHS Food Scanner app to help parents make healthier food choices for their children.

The new app works by allowing families to scan product barcodes on food items to generate a healthier suggestion as an alternative. It’s hoped it will encourage more families to swap unhealthy options in their diets and give them the knowledge they need to do so.

In addition, the app’s ‘Good Choice’ badge will highlight those foods that are in line with the government’s current dietary recommendations for added sugar, saturated fat and salt.

Once a snack item is scanned, the app will display its nutritional information using the familiar traffic light system, food swap recommendations, and also uses augmented reality to bring to life the sugar, fat or salt content of the scanned food.

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.”

The government campaign has been launched to help stem the growing tide of obesity amongst young people. The NHS Digital National Child Measurement programme England 2020/2021 found that one in four children of reception school age are overweight or obese, rising to 40% for children in Year 6.

Successive lockdowns have been blamed for children’s poor diets, with a recent survey from Netmums, finding that 58% of parents feed their children more sugary or fatty snacks now, compared to pre-pandemic. The same survey also revealed that two thirds of parents are concerned about how healthy their children’s snacks are, and nearly 90% say they would benefit from an app like the one just launched.

The government’s obesity strategy has seen the Department of Health and Social Care dedicate £100m of funding to support children, adults and families in their bid to reach a healthy weight. Towards the end of last year, the government also announced the pilot of an app, which uses wrist-worn devices to help encourage people to make positive changes to their lifestyle, in a bid to improve the nation’s health.