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How much Sugar should my child be eating?

sugar

~ Your guide to understanding all things sweet ~

Sugar has become a rather large topic of conversation lately due to the child obesity epidemic, its role in adult diseases and even being labelled as a toxin!  I often get asked about sugar and how much kids should be eating.  Below is a guide to how to read nutritional labels when looking at sugar and other helpful tips to reduce consumption.

Why is it so bad?

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that provides the body with a quick energy hit, soon followed by a slump in energy.  Sugar provides no nutritional benefit; it has ‘empty calories’.  Sugar consumption in children is above average and can lead to hyperactivity, reduced immunity and tooth decay.  It is the added sugars that we are to be wary of.  Foods high in added sugar include; pastries, muffins, cakes, lollies, chocolate, fruit drinks, cordials and soft drinks.  You may be surprised to know also that sugar is added to some salad dressings, baked beans, tomato sauce, some yoghurts and of course, the worst culprit, breakfast cereals!

How much?

When reading the nutrition label of a product, read the sugar content per 100 grams not per serve (as serving sizes are different).  When reading the ingredient list, if sugar is listed in the first 3 or 4 ingredients, you can be sure that the product is fairly high in sugar.

Hidden sugars…

Sugar is not only listed as ‘sugar’ but it also goes by the names: sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar), fructose (fruit sugar & honey), corn syrup, rice syrup, malt extract, rice extract, molasses, maltose.  Many products pride themselves as having ‘no added sugars’ – this does not mean that there is no sugar present, i.e. as in honey, fruit, milk etc.

Tips on reducing sugar intake:

  1. Look for products that have less than 15 grams of sugar/ 100(Interesting to note that the majority of common kid’s breakfast cereals have up 30 grams of sugar per 100 grams!)
  2. Have a preference for products with no sugar or not at least in the first 3-4 ingredients.
  3. Choose natural foods – add fresh fruit to natural plain yoghurts/ make your own breakfast cereals or choose oats, millet, quinoa, speltThese grains are sugar free and are packed full of nutrition.  Opt for pieces of fruit (1-2pcs/ day for 4 to 7 year olds) as opposed to juices, there is no added sugar and you’re getting the benefit of fibre as well as other important nutrients.
  4. Avoid soft drinks and cordials, limit or dilute fruit juices and favour water as the primary fluid choice.
  5. Avoid adding sugar to foods.
  6. Watch out for muffins, banana bread and cakes etc. – make your own healthier options (www.thefoodcoach.com.au has some great healthy tasty recipes)
  7. Educate yourself on how to read nutritional labels.

Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions.  Yours in health,

Kim Holmes

Kim Holmes

Kim

Kim Holmes is Platinum Pre School's preffered Nutritionist, she writes specifically tailored articles for the Platinum Newsletter and advises our staff on questions related to childhood nutrition. 

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