As we all know by now, too much sugar can lead to weight gain and health problems because, as explained by Lindie, a healthcare expert on JustAnswer, sugar enters into the bloodstream quickly and once the body has used all the sugar it needs, it stores the extra sugar as fat.
But what exactly is “too much sugar,” especially for kids?
When it comes to watching sugar it’s important to distinguish between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar (cane sugar, corn syrup, etc.). Naturally occurring sugars are found in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and grains. While it’s important to keep an eye on the overconsumption of whole foods with lots of naturally occurring sugars, e.g. eating potatoes or fruit all day, when it comes to watching your child’s sugar intake, most people these days are talking about added sugar.
Added sugar is found in obvious treats like candy and cookies, but it can also be found in crackers, juices, sodas, and yogurt. We don’t normally think of these foods as containing sugar, but they can, and in some cases, large amounts.
Sugar by the numbers
According to the AHA (American Heart Association), you should limit your child’s added sugar intake to roughly:
4 teaspoons (approximately 16 grams) per day for preschoolers
3 teaspoons (approximately 12 – 13 grams) per day for children 4 -8
5 – 8 teaspoons (approximately 20 – 32 grams) per day for preteen and teenage children
It’s important to pay close attention to the number of grams per day, because this is the number you will find listed on packaged foods. So consider if you gave your child a container of yogurt that listed sugar as one of its main ingredients, and then listed 20 grams of sugar under the serving information (assuming some of those sugars are naturally occurring in the milk), your child consumed close to or over the recommended daily amount of added sugar in that one container of yogurt.
Replacing sugar-y snacks can be daunting at first, but once your child gets used to eating plain yogurt with fruit, crackers with less sugar, and juice boxes made only with real juice, she’ll hopefully love the natural sweetness, and not feel like she’s missing out.
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