Limit sugar and sweet treats for our children

Erroll Lewis  |  4/5/2019 4:57:45 PM

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We all know children really like consuming food and beverages with added sugars. Children in the United States consumes 19 teaspoons of added sugars a day. Childhood obesity has followed the same trend as adult obesity due to eating unhealthy food and consuming drinks that are harmful to their health. The former First Lady Michelle Obama played a significant role in encouraging nutrition experts to begin addressing obesity and providing healthy food and lifestyles for adults and especially children.

Excessive amounts of sugar contribute to the risk of obesity in children. According to researched published by the Mayo Clinic, there are many childhood obesity health related problems associated with excessive sugar consumption. Each gram of sugar contains 4 calories, therefore, if a food has 15 grams of added sugar, this is equivalent to 60 calories as noted by the American Heart Association. Sugars are added to most cakes, cookies and pies, which contain excessive amounts of calories with no beneficial nutrients. Drinking sugar- sweetened beverages also adds calories with few nutrients. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that too many empty calories can result in nutrition deficiencies, and the rise in childhood obesity which is linked partly to the increased consumption of sugary drinks.

Drinking sugary drinks daily increases the chance of tooth decay. Becoming more knowledgeable of the impact of added sugar on oral health can decrease the risk of teeth decay. Food labels identify hidden sugars in food products. Parents and those caring for children must become familiar with and get educated on food labeling. Foods such as milk, fruit, vegetable, grains and processed and prepared foods all contain sugars. Cut back on the amounts of foods and beverages with added sugars.

10 Tips on ways to decrease added sugars

  1. Serve small portions - show that small amounts can go a long way
  2. Sip smarter - Offer water, 100% juice or fat-free milk
  3. Use check-out lane that does not display candy – use a candy free check-out lane
  4. Choose not to offer sweets as reward – reward your kid with kind words instead
  5. Make fruit the everyday dessert – serve baked apples, pears or enjoy a fruit salad
  6. Make food fun – Create smiley faces with bananas and raisins
  7. Encourage kids to invent new snacks – provide ingredients and allow kids to create new snacks
  8. Play detective in the cereal aisle –show kids how to look for lowest amount of sugar in cereals
  9. Make treats “treats” not everyday foods – limit sweets treats to special occasions
  10. If kids don’t eat their meals, they don’t need sweet “extras” – candy and cookies don’t replace a real meal

References: American Dental Association, ADA; American Heart Association, AHA; American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP; USDA

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