Are Our Children Consuming Too Much Sugar?
Sugar is a taste that everyone enjoys, kids and adults alike. But as a parent, you may feel the need to protect your child from consuming too much sugar. This is because, in excess, sugar can be harmful to your children. But why is sugar harmful, and how much sugar is too much sugar?
Why Do We Love The Taste Of Sugar?
The sensation of sweetness is a primary taste sensation that our taste buds have the ability to recognize. According to research, even babies enjoy the taste of sugar right from birth. An explanation for this could be as this primes the child for breast milk, which is considered to be sweeter when compared to milk from cows.
Other theories have been presented as well. One of these is that the human body is aware that sweeter food has kilojoules in concentration, which is what the body looks forward to consuming. It can also be as people are conditioned to turn to the comfort of sweet foods when they’re dealing with problems. Irrespective of what the reason is, too much sugar can be a problem at any age.
Why Is Consuming Excess Sugar A Problem?
When you think about consuming excess sugar, you may also think about gaining excess weight. This is because more sugar has been associated with weight gain. This can, of course, affect young children as well. When it comes to children, an issue parents face is that children tend to prefer sweet foods. This means that they willingly consume large quantities of sweets and sweet foods when given the opportunity.
They may also eat so many sweets that they later don’t have any space left in their system for healthy, nutritional foods. A lot of sugar can also have an adverse effect on children’s teeth. Sugary foods have often been associated with tooth decay. If you want to protect your child’s teeth, then limiting the amount of sugar they consume is necessary.
Are Children Consuming Too Much Sugar?
In 2015, the World Health Organization recommended that adults and children alike should consume no more than 10% of kilojoules through free sugars. As it happens, people end up consuming more sugar than they are recommended, and this can end up having adverse effects on their health.
This can affect children worse. If they keep consuming too much sugar through their childhood and up until they reach the age of 18, then this can affect their health as well. This is because, during their period of growth, they consumed more sugar instead of nutritional foods that would have been beneficial for their growth. Instead of empty kilojoules, children need the right combination of nutrients, vitamins and minerals at this crucial growing juncture.
Which Sugars Should You Avoid?
According to WHO, people should limit the amount of free sugars they consume. Free sugars, here, refers to sugar added to food or drinks by the people who manufactured the food, cooked it, or by the consumer. It also includes sugars that are present in foodstuffs like honey, fruit juices, syrups, as well as concentrates of fruits. This essentially refers to the sugar found in any processed or cooked product.
What it doesn’t include is unprocessed sugars. These include the sugar found in unprocessed fruits, milk or dairy, or even in vegetables.
How Do You Know Which Foods Have Sugar In Them?
It isn’t always easy to spot sugar in foods. Sugar can also be found in food that doesn’t taste sweet at all, such as a can of baked beans. What then should you be looking for if you want to avoid excessive consumption of sugar by your children?
- Drinking Sugary Drinks
A lot of the sugar children consume come from sugary drinks. By cutting down on these drinks, you can curb almost 40% of your child’s sugar consumption. Since children can consume a lot of sugary drinks at one go, this means that they end up consuming a lot of sugar as well. For children, the best drinks are either water or milk. They don’t need to consume sugary drinks on a regular basis. Instead, sugary drinks can be treats they enjoy from time to time.
- Fruit Juice
Even though fruit juice is considered a healthy drink, it can still contain a lot of sugar. Instead of giving your child fruit juice, why not give them a serving of fruit instead? If you do want to give your child fruit juice, then consider limiting it to just one glass of fruit juice a day. For younger children, you can think about diluting the fruit juice as well.
- Looking for Sweet Foods
Even a slice of bread, or baked beans, can contain sugar. That is why you should consider reading the labels, to look for how much sugar each product contains. Look out for the obvious sweet foods, like chocolates, candies, tinned fruit and cakes. But also watch out for muesli, health bars, biscuits, breakfast cereals, and biscuits.
- Paying Attention to Labels
Sugar, in an ingredient list, can be listed under several names. These include fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, glucose, and even honey. Whenever a food tastes sweet, then irrespective of what the label says, the product contains sugar. Some items, such as yoghurts and food with fruit, will contain natural sugars. These don’t count as free sugars since they come naturally from the product.
You don’t have to stop your children from consuming sugar at all, but rather moderate how much sugar they consume. Childcare Centres are valuable but outlining how much sugar is an important part! Use this guide to better understand which foods are better for your children and which contain excess sugar.