Sugar is the latest hot health & nutrition topic. As parents we may feel that too much sugar for kids is bad (cue much running around and hyperactivity after sugary foods) but do you know exactly How Much Sugar Per Day Your Child Should Eat?
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The problem I think for many parents is two-fold: firstly knowing how much sugar per day kids should actually be eating, and secondly how much sugar is in the foods and drinks we give them. Everyday food and drink can have a lot of added sugar, which can build up quickly without us realising.
So Why is Too Much Sugar a Problem?
We all know that too much sugar can cause tooth decay but did you now that it also leads to the build up of harmful fat on the inside that we can’t see? This fat around vital organs can cause serious problems and diseases in the future such as:
- Weight gain
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Some cancers
How Much Sugar Per Day Should Kids Have by Age
Here are the recommended guidelines for how much sugar per day kids should have by age:
5 cubes max* or 19 grams
6 cubes max* or 24 grams
7 cubes max*or 30 grams
*1 cube = 4g sugar
To put this into perspective, a typical 330ml can of fizzy drink can contain up to 35g or 9 teaspoons of free sugar! In other words, one can of fizzy drink is more than the sugar that older children should have for the whole day.
How to find out more about the level of sugar in food and drink
I had a scout around to see what I could find for advice for parents on this topic. Here are some websites and apps that may help you.
Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush Campaign
I have been keeping an eye on Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush campaign, he is trying to persuade the UK food and drinks industry to start reducing sugar, and the UK government to introduce a soft drink tax.
He has even self imposed a tax on all soft drinks in the Jamie Oliver restaurants and is using the funds raised to help educate children about nutrition and food.
I would recommend having a look at the Jamie Oliver website, as it has good information e.g. sugar facts and FAQs.
Sugar Smart app
I was also interested to read about a new, free app that the NHS has brought out called Sugar Smart, available for iOS and Android. Once you download the app you can scan the barcodes on food packaging at home or at the shops before you buy, and see exactly how much sugar is in each item. The Sugar Smart website is also full of information about added sugars in food.
Safefood infographic: how Much Sugar is in Kids Drinks?
The drinks we give our children are often the worst culprits for sugar. But would you know how much sugar is in the drinks your kids have? Could you say definitively how many sugar cubes equivalent are in e.g. 7Up, orange juice or a smoothie?
Safefood have an excellent infographic available to download that shows you exactly how much sugar are in many different drinks ranging from natural fruit juices, sweetened fruit drinks, fizzy drinks to smoothies.
They also have a nice tip to use bendy or coloured straws to make water more fun for younger children.
Heart.org helps advise on how to find out how much added sugar is in food
Unfortunately, you can’t tell easily by looking at the nutrition facts panel of a food if it contains added sugars. The line for “sugars” includes both added and natural sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are found in milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose). Any product that contains milk (such as yogurt, milk or cream) or fruit (fresh, dried) contains some natural sugars.
The Heart.org website has good advice about how to work out what added sugars there are and what to look for on labels.
Over to you now. Do you feel you have a good grasp on your child’s sugar intake? Tell us in the comments below.