A recent report from UK survey showed that children are consuming almost 12-16% of their daily calories from added sugar. Added sugars are causing obesity in children and the calorie intake can cause harm for child’s growth by accumulating fat and results in weight gain. So how much sugar is too much for kids ?
The added sugars are also known as free sugars that are added to our daily food and drinks. Natural sugars present in fruits, milk, vegetables and honey are not considered added. Unfortunately, kids don’t prefer these natural sweets. This is how we all grew up. In our market, kids foods are loaded with sugar. To name a few, biscuits, some of the breakfast cereals, chocolates, candy, sweets, kids juices, oatmeal’s and fruit rolls. For kids daily diet we can add only certain amount of added sugar and it is recommended that adding sugar should not be considered as norm. For kids normal growth they need vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats in proper amount. Anything that is added in the form sugar cannot be norm for their growth. It also affects children behavior and the belief is that eating too much sugar will cause “sugar rush” in children and they become hyperactive.
Eating sugar can lead to tooth decay and high obesity and childhood diabetes. One of the reason for this is most parents does not know how much sugar their child eats. Kids love sugar and what parents don’t know is how unhealthy it can be. According to USDA Economic Research Service, the average kid under 12 age consumes about 49 pounds of sugar per year and it is more than the normal adult would consume per year!
What is the recommended amount of added sugar for children?
- For Age 4 to 6 years = 19 gram (5 tea spoons) per day
- For Age 7 to 10 years = 24 gram (6 tea spoons) per day
- For 11 years = 30 gram (7 teaspoons) per day.
How to control sugar intake in kids?
What foods should be swapped for sugar?
- Yogurt with fruits and berries, cereals with honey, rice and oats porridge, bagels, bread toast and sandwich
- Instead of sugary candy, pastries and cakes – unsalted nuts, bread sticks, fresh fruit cups, vegetable sticks with dip, rice and oat cakes. Crackers with fruit and vegetable slices, peanut butter, cheese and hummus. Bake fruit and vegetables. Fruit salad is a good swap too.
- Drinks – instead of sugary drinks try milk, sparkling water, unsweetened juice, smoothies, chocolate milk without sugar.
- Let your dessert be small: If you buy or cook or bake, let your dessert be small and not big to keep that extra left over to fit in the fridge.
- Understand added sugar and natural sweetener – Both are no good. Natural sweeteners are not natural, they are loaded with concentrated sugar.
- Learn reading food label: Don’t be fooled by sugar quantity. It might appear small amount on food label. 1 teaspoon of sugar means 4 grams of sugar!
- Distraction from sugar and candy: You know your kids interest and what makes them happy in terms of hobbies. If they are looking for sugar, distract them and keep them occupied in a way that they should forget sugar and focus on activities.
If kids continue eating sugar the way they are (or if parents do not take care of it) as they grow children will consume more soda than milk and instead of healthy foods like fruits, grains, vegetables and milk they opt for sugary substances that can harm their development.
Encourage children to eat healthy snacks and make them understand what added sugar can do to their body. In front of children eat healthy snacks and sit with them while eating. Make snacks more interesting and nutritious. Ask them to select healthy and nutritious food by giving them options.
Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: December 12, 2017