Sugar has a sweet, sweet attraction…
It gives us energy. It cheers us up. It indulges our tastes buds.
The doughnuts, candies, ice cream, sodas, and other sweet treats we offer to kids make them – and us – real delighted. But the truth is, we often feed our kids too much sugar. In fact, many young kids are eating even more sugar than what’s recommended for some adults. No more than 5% of our calories should come from added sugars.
Many adults are well aware that consuming too much sugar is bad for health and may lead to various medical problems. However, we often overlook the fact that kids are NOT immune from such adverse effects as well. While we can allow for some sugar in our kid’s diets, all those sweets and colas should be regarded as occasional treats instead of making them the norm.
Sugar Impacts on Kids’ Health
Toddlers in America are consuming an average of over seven teaspoons of added sugar per day – more than the recommended amount of six teaspoons for female adults. This can potentially lead to many health problems both later in life and also in the present.
But the good news is that the harmful effects of consuming too much sugar can be easily avoided with proper meal planning and discipline. So, parents, it’s time for you to take note of your kids’ sugar consumption!
More commonly, the immediate effect of eating too much sugar for young kids is the risk of tooth decay. When sugar is consumed regularly or excessively, it causes holes or cavities that result in pain and discomfort in the teeth and gum area. Teeth problems are one of the top reasons for young kids hospital admissions in the UK.
You probably already know that sugar and calories go hand-in-hand. Hence, another physical effect of eating too much sugar is obesity (and its associated effects).
Increased risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses are also possible in later life with persistent and regular high sugar intake.
Sugar Effects on Kids’ Appetite
Foods that are high in sugar content also contain large amounts of calories. Hence, kids who consume candies and sugary drinks before actual mealtimes are likely to feel full more easily – which decreases their appetite and ability to eat ‘proper’ food. Loading up on too much sugar can also cause stomachaches that result in poor appetite as well.
When kids get easily filled with foods that contain high sugar content and consume less of other foods, malnutrition is a possible risk whereby the intake of nutrition and vitamins required for healthy growth in kids are insufficient.
Have you heard about sugar addiction?
It is true that your kid can get dependent on sugar. When they consume too much sugar, a condition which some have termed as “sugar addiction” may develop. This occurs if your kid who consumes sugary food on a regular basis suddenly experiences withdrawal symptoms if they do not have sugary food for a day or two.
Such withdrawal symptoms from not consuming sugar may include mood changes such as increased irritability. In more extreme cases, physical symptoms like tremors, or changes in activity level – hyperactivity or lower-than-usual energy, are also possible.
The over-consumption of sugary foods can also cause kids to become picky eaters. They may demand food that is sweet while avoiding food that tastes ‘bland’ or simply not to their liking.
Not only does sugar tastes good, but it also makes us feel good as well. However, we need to start recognizing the detrimental consequences of persistent and regular high sugar-intake. To prevent our young ones from the associated health risks, parents have to be mindful of their kid’s diets and make a conscious effort to expose them to healthier food choices that are lower in sugar level. Not only do you have to cut down on the candies and colas, refined sugar found in white bread and certain processed foods also play a part in increasing your kid’s sugar consumption.
Now that you know about these effects, it’s time to re-evaluate the amount of sugar your kids should be consuming!
1. Delaney, Emer. “How Much Sugar Should Children Have?” BBC Good Food, www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/children-and-sugar-how-bad-it.
2. Hartney, Elizabeth. “Too Much Sugar Can Cause Health Problems in Kids.” Verywell Family, 1 Mar. 2020, www.verywellfamily.com/is-too-much-sugar-harmful-to-kids-22337.
3. “How Much Sugar Is Good for Me?” NHS UK, www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/food-and-diet/how-much-sugar-is-good-for-me/.
4. “Sugars and Tooth Decay.” Action on Sugar, www.actiononsugar.org/sugar-and-health/sugars-and-tooth-decay/.
5. “Teeth Problems Are Top Reason for Young Children’s Hospital Admissions.” The Guardian, www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/13/teeth-problems-children-hospital-decay-extractions.
6. “Toddlers Are Eating More Sugar Than What’s Recommended for Some Adults.” Healthline, www.healthline.com/health-news/toddlers-eating-more-sugar-than-recommended-for-adults#1.
7. Vos, Miriam B et al. “Added Sugars and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Children: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association.” Circulation vol. 135,19 (2017): e1017-e1034. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000439