Could your child be eating 41 teaspoons of sugar a day?
You may be surprised to find out that this is a big possibility...
It’s undeniable — kids just love sugar. And while you might try your best to control your child’s daily sugar intake, sometimes you give in, thinking, “it’s just once in a while” or “kids will be kids.”
Yet, the effects of sugar on kids are dire – probably more than you ever imagined — and have been pointed out by authorities in health such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Health Promotion Board of Singapore (HPB).
Kids and sugar: What do the experts say?
In a nutshell: the two are not a very good combination, both in terms of short- and long-term health.
When a child eats too much food that is high in sugar (e.g. junk food), his body digests this food quite fast. Since this type of food contains very few nutrients, the child’s body is forced to use the sugar it contains as energy.
This energy leads to a temporary “sugar high” — a false feeling of energy — that is soon followed by a “sugar crash”, or high fatigue. This, in turn results in the loss of focus and concentration in the child.
A high-sugar diet can also result in obesity among children. It puts them at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol — all of which are major contributors to heart disease.
The danger comes from both sugar eaten separately as well as added sugar (for example, sucrose) in popular food items such as some breakfast cereals, smoothies and biscuits.
Added sugar does absolutely nothing positive for your child’s health and can be considered more dangerous than sugar eaten separately, because it is often ‘hidden’ in other foods.
It is merely empty calories (no nutrients beyond calories) and only puts your child at risk of chronic health problems such as those described above.
In addition, too much sugar in a child’s diet is also the leading cause of tooth decay, say medical researchers.
Singapore takes sugar seriously
In Singapore, health authorities are taking the health consequences of too much sugar very seriously.
“We need to tackle the diabetes challenge. Therefore, I am declaring war on diabetes,” said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong earlier in April 2016, in announcing the establishment of a new Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce.
This comes on the back of the growing problem of diabetes in Singapore, said the Ministry of Health (MOH). The ministry revealed that in 2014, around 440,000 residents aged 18 years and above had diabetes.
That same year, half of all heart attack cases had diabetes; two in three new kidney failure cases were due to diabetes; and two in five stroke cases had diabetes.
Keeping these facts in mind, how are Singaporean children doing when it comes to their daily sugar intake? You’ll be surprised to find out.
Continue to the next page to find out just how much sugar the average Singaporean 10-year-old is eating daily.
Singaporean kids and sugar: How much is too much?
According to HPB and WHO, sugar intake for children (excluding sugar naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables and milk) should not exceed 10% of recommended daily calorie consumption.
A typical 10-year-old female child needs 1800 calories and a typical 10 year old male child needs 2200 calories daily, with added sugar not exceeding 40 – 55 grams (8 – 11 teaspoons) a day, depending on the child’s energy requirements.
Now, let’s take a look at this example of what a typical six to 12-year-old primary school child in Singapore eats a day and how much sugar his or her meals roughly contain.
We’re warning you — prepare to be surprised.
Example daily diet of a Singaporean child (6 to 12 years old)
Breakfast: Pop crunchies with milk
Sugar in grams: 44g
Sugar in Teaspoons: 11
Lunch : Fast foods (cheese burger + mango smoothie)
Sugar in grams: 44.5g
Sugar in Teaspoons: 11
Snack : Chocolate wafer
Sugar in grams: 18g
Sugar in Teaspoons: 5
Dinner : Lemon chicken rice with fried lemon chicken
Sugar in grams: 11g
Sugar in Teaspoons: 3
Total: 117.5 grams of sugar = roughly 29 teaspoons of sugar.
According to this example, on average a child consumes 165.4 grams (a whopping 41 teaspoons of sugar), exceeding the recommended intake of 40-55 grams (eight to 11 teaspoons) of sugar a day.
As you can see, added sugar is hidden in the most unexpected of foods and drinks — even supposedly healthy options like breakfast cereal and smoothies
Because of this, isn’t it time you kept a closer eye on the amount of sugar your child eats in a day?
One way you can do this by actively reading and checking the ingredient list of the food and drink you buy for your children, taking note of the total sugars these items contain.
Another option is to look for low sugar versions of the types of food and drink your child loves. Let’s take, for example, cultured milk drinks that most kids love to drink.
Usually, parents are not overly concerned about their kids’ consumption of such drinks because of the benefits to gut health that they bring. However, many cultured milk drinks contain lots of sugar in the form of sucrose.
You could, however, opt for a less-sugar cultured milk drink like VITAGEN Less Sugar.
Your child’s gut health gets a boost due to VITAGEN being the only cultured milk that has Prebiotics* and Probiotics** to help maintain a healthy digestive system.
What’s more, VITAGEN Less Sugar contains 50% less sugar than regular cultured milk drinks, as well as almost 10 times less sucrose than other regular cultured milk drinks, making it a healthy option for your child.
*Helps support growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Reduces the presence of less desirable bacteria.
**Maintains a desirable balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Helps fight harmful bacteria to maintain a healthy digestive system.
This article was brought to you by VITAGEN Less Sugar. VITAGEN contains 50% less sugar than regular cultured milk drinks.
Information on nutritional statistics used with permission from Food Advisory Group.
For more on how to lead a healthier less-sugar lifestyle, visit VITAGEN Singapore Facebook Page.