The American Heart Association (AHA) is suggesting that children consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. That is only 25 grams.
According to the AHA, children are now getting way more than the suggested sugar limit of 25 grams and it is adversely affecting their health. A diet high in added sugars is strongly associated with weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, abnormal cholesterol and fatty liver disease in children.
What is added sugar? Added sugar is anything added to a food that it wouldn’t normally contain. Table sugar, fructose, maple syrup or honey used as an ingredient in processing, preparing foods or beverages, eaten separately, or added to a meal at the dining table are all considered added sugar. Common foods that have added sugar are soft drinks, candy and baked goods.
One can of soda alone contains on average 35 grams of sugar!!!!
If you want to learn more about sugar and its effects on the body, watch the documentary Fed Up and read these five things you may not have known about sugar, but you should:
1. Sugar is everywhere. From yogurt to spaghetti sauce, sugar is put in just about anything processed. Be label savvy. Look at the ingredients. As ingredients are listed by weight, the higher up sugar is on the ingredient list, the more sugar that product contains.
2. We are addicted to sugar. Americans, on average, consume almost 80 grams of added sugar per day (about 19 teaspoons). That is far above the goal of 25 grams or less! If you are curious to see what that looks like, get out your teaspoons and start scooping. Studies have also shown that sweet flavors can produce addictive-like behaviors, promoting changes in the reward system of the brain that help to drive over-consumption. So we end up eating more sugar!
3. Sugar is harmful to our health. Some of the health consequences of too much sugar aren’t overly surprising, such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. However, you may not know that too much sugar can also lead to fatty liver disease (no matter your weight) and even damaged memory. Recent studies have also shown that sugar may have more of an impact on blood pressure than salt!
4. You don’t need sugar. This is an easy one, in theory. All you have to do is read labels – if there is added sugar, put it down. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store to find unprocessed, whole foods, and choose unsweetened versions of foods. As your palate becomes accustomed to the taste of unsweetened foods, you will notice that you don’t crave the sweet as much.
5. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Research is showing that consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners may promote weight gain, as well as diabetes. Your best bet? Stay away from artificial chemicals, and limit added sugars.
Photo from here, with thanks.