It’s common for busy moms to pour a bowl of their children’s favorite cereal and send them off to school. However, did you know that today’s kids are overwhelmed with too much sugar? Children today are consuming extraordinary amounts of sugar in their daily diets. As a matter of fact, 13 percent of preschoolers’ daily calories, and 16 percent of the total calories children and teens consume each day, are from added sugars. The recommended daily intake is 5 to 15 percent. This trend leads kids on the fast track to obesity.
The fact of the matter is that all this added sugar is not so sweet for your health. Most kids consume more sugar in a day than they realize. It is important to understand that sugar contains a lot of added calories but zero nutrients. So, too much sugar means extra pounds.
Sugar by any other name
A national average shows that adults consume a whopping 22 teaspoons of sugar a day instead of the recommended intake of 6 to 9 teaspoons, while children and teens consume between 13 and 17 teaspoons per day instead of the recommended 3 teaspoons. So where does all this added sugar come from?
Sugar has a large list of aliases of which many consumers simply are not aware. Whether it’s added or natural, sugar is still sugar, each gram containing four calories. When shopping, you can begin your detective work by reading the ingredient list and seeking out names that end in “ose.” Look for names such as fructose, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, or maltose. You will also want to be aware of names such as
– Cane sugar or cane juice syrup
– Brown rice syrup
– Corn sweetener
– Fruit juice concentrates
– Barley malt syrup
– Corn syrup or corn syrup solids
– White, brown, or raw sugar
– High fructose corn syrup, liquid fructose, or fructose sweetener
– Maple syrup
– Anhydrous dextrose
Easy tips to reducing sugar
– To avoid eating too much sugar, cut back on processed foods such as chocolates, cakes, muffins, cookies, ice cream, breads, sweetened cereals, pasta sauces–yes, even pasta sauces–and soft drinks. Although soda consumption is high and does increase the daily sugar intake, these other food choices contribute more than a beverage.
– On hot days, make better choices by offering kids water instead of sport drinks. Choose healthier cereal brands. For example, did you know that Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal contains 56% sugar? Buy fewer processed foods like granola bars, jams, and canned fruit to eliminate the temptation to eat too much sugar. Opt for fruit canned in water or natural juices instead, or better yet, eat fresh fruit.
Completely remove white and brown sugar along with syrups, molasses, and honey out of the home and practice “out of sight, out of mind.” Instead of adding sugar to oatmeal, cut a fresh banana or add a little dried fruit instead.
– Many recipes contain too much sugar. When baking for your kids, cut the recipe’s sugar content in half or use extracts in place of sugar. You can try orange, almond, or vanilla. You can also enhance foods with spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, or allspice. Unsweetened applesauce is also a great substitute in place of sugar.
According to the American Public Health Association, approximately one-third of all American children are obese from eating too much sugar, and most of the sugars consumed by kids come from within the home. You can start developing better overall health by making smarter eating choices.
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