We hear all sorts of things about sugar: that it is bad, and also that it is not bad after all. I have heard people say that it doesn’t matter if you give children soft drinks as they sometimes need sugar to boost their energy levels. Nowadays you find kids at home and school parties not only gulping soft drinks, while also eating loads of sugar sweetened foods under the watch of parents. The last thing a child needs is to add to their sugar intake through fruit juices, sodas and ice cream among other sweetened foods.
It is tempting always for parents to reward good behaviour by giving treats of sweets to kids. Kids love sugar, but consuming too many foods and beverages with added sugar, puts kids at risk of obesity and other health-related problems.
Like many parents, you may worry about the amount of sugar your child gets from sugary drinks, snacks and desserts. The recommended daily intake of sugar for children (between two and 18) according to experts is fewer than six teaspoons of added sugar per day. That is about 25 grams of sugar or 100 calories. Children and teens should limit their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks to no more than eight ounces weekly, they say. But this is almost always exceeded-on a daily basis.
Be it white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, or honey and corn syrup, experts say they are all forms of sugar. Sugar is found in many processed foods. Sugar is often added to food drinks, some breakfast cereals and yoghourts, energy drinks, fruit drinks and chocolate milk. Sugar is also found naturally in fruit, vegetables and milk.
Sugar intake has become a major concern around the globe. The food industry has a long history of marketing sugary foods to children, taking advantage of their biologically programmed preference for sweet tastes. Evidently, numerous studies have linked high sugar consumption to increased risk of obesity and related diseases.
Furthermore, the risk of developing such health problems increases with the more added sugars a child consumes, and children who are already overweight who carry on consuming added sugars are at greater risk of insulin resistance, making them more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
The World Health Organisation proposed new draft guidelines that recommend only 5 percent of the total daily calories in our diets come from sugar. If you are concerned about your child’s health, then it is time you started avoiding giving them excessive sugary foods.
It is highly recommended by dieticians that parents should limit food and drinks that are high in sugar. It is important to offer a variety of healthy foods every day. The essential nutritional steps to take are to eat foods derived from plants – vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes while limiting highly processed foods. Children can enjoy sweetened foods and beverages in small amounts, health experts urge.
Also, replacing white (refined) sugar with raw sugar by parents will be an added advantage for kids. It provides only empty calories which are not digestible in a beneficial way. Replacing sugar with honey, or simply fruits is even better.
The food and other regulatory agencies could help parents limit their kids’ added sugar intake by including dietary guidelines and nutritional standards. This practice will help to guide parents thus safeguarding children from health-related problems.