All parents know that kids and sugar don’t mix well in general. Sugar makes even the most reserved child hyperactive and bouncing off walls. That’s why most parent try to limit their children’s sugar consumption.
Yet despite this, the average four to eight-year-old child eats approximately 15 teaspoons of added sugar daily, as per a poll.
That’s 50 pounds of sugar a year.
To make matters worse, natural sugars found in foods like fruits or plain milk aren’t even included in the figure.
Parents magazine also tallied the sugar content in an average child which consisted of Greek yogurt plus a cup of chocolate milk for breakfast (24 grams of sugar), peanut butter and jelly for lunch (17 grams), brownie for dessert (21).
Excluding the sugar in their dinner and the natural sugars in fruits, a child gets around 60 grams of sugar daily.
To put this into perspective, adults’ recommended daily intake of added sugar is only 37 grams for men and 25 grams for women.
Excessive sugar intake, especially when it starts during childhood, only leads to serious health issues later on. The good news is that there are simple things parents do to cut back how much sugar their children take.
In a TODAY article, nutritionist Joy Bauer gives three easy ways how parents can get started.
First is to rethinking children’s breakfast. Food such as breakfast cereals, fruit juice, chocolate milk and flavoured yogurt are pumped with sugar and artificial flavourings.
A healthier alternative is to substitute flavoured yogurt with a plain kind and topping it with fresh fruits, nuts, or low-sugar cereal. You can also feed them whole grain waffles with peanut butter while skipping the jelly and syrups.
Second is rethinking the dessert habits. Desserts are a treat, but it shouldn’t always be a part of their daily meal time. Moderation is key. Instead of sweets like brownies, fruit kebabs and frozen fruits make a healthier alternative.
Finally, change up what the drinks. Joy says that “kid-friendly” beverages are typically loaded with added sugar, beverages such as lemonade and juice.
Adding flavour to plain milk with a little syrup or power is better, says Joy. She also suggests making water more fun.
“Invest in a SodaStream, or buy fun water bottles for everyone,” she says. “A more labor-intensive idea is to make fruit juice ice cubes and add them to sparkling water for a hint of flavour, or you can add lemon, lime and other berries.”