|Kim Gubbins, CPNP|
From the desk of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Kim Gubbins
We know that dietary and lifestyle habits are major contributors of chronic diseases including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, elevated blood pressure, obesity and dental cavities. We have seen childhood obesity on the rise and many studies have linked sugar intake to this increase.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “children should consume less than 25 grams (g), or the equivalent of 6 teaspoons, of added sugar per day.” This is significantly less than what most of our children are receiving. On average kids are getting around 80 g of added sugar per day! The experts are telling us that half of this sugar intake it from drinks (juice, sweet tea, sports drinks or soda) and half of this sugar is from food. The AHA more specifically suggests that we only allow our children 8 oz of a sugar sweetened beverage, just one time per week. Yes, ONCE per week not ONCE per day!!! “Sugar sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugar and an important contributor of calories in the diets of children in the United States.” And we know that added sugar and higher calories can lead to insulin resistance which places are kids at a much higher risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity.
As parents, we need to start looking at labels and limiting the added sugar in our children’s diet. Labels can be tricky and parents need to look for words like sugar, honey, fructose, dextrose, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, glucose, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, and sucrose.
Lastly, many parents have questions about diet, zero calorie or sugar free drinks. Are these a safe and better alternative for our kids who crave something sweet to drink? American Academy for Pediatrics stated that artificial sweeteners have not been studied thoroughly enough in children and therefore should not be included in our children’s diet. Examples of these drinks would be: Crystal Light, Mio drops, diet or “zero” sodas, etc.
Examples of sugar content in foods our children ask for:
Quaker Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip granola bar: 7g = 2 tsp
Dannon Danimals Smoothie: 10g = 2.5 tsp
Bag of M&M’s: 31g = 8 tsp
Chocolate Chip Pop Tart (1 package): 34g = 8.5 tsp
Honey Maid Graham crackers (2 full cracker sheets): 8g = 2 tsp
Welch’s Mixed Fruit Fruit Snacks (0.9oz pouch) or Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks: 11g = 3tsp
¾ cup of Lucky Charms: 10g = 2.5 tsp
Examples of sugar content in drinks our children ask for:
32 oz bottle of Gatorade: 56g = 14 tsp
12oz can of Coke: 39g = 10 tsp
1 Pouch of Capri Sun: 13g = 3 tsp
1. Frellick, Marcia (2016). AHA Provides Guidance on Sugar Limits for Children. Medscape. Retrieved from: http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/868943
2. Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM. Dietary sources of energy, solid fats, and added sugars among children and adolescents in the United States. J Am Diet Assoc 2010;110(10):1477—84.
3. Brown, Rebecca, Rother, Kristina, & Sylvetsky, Allison (2011). Artificial sweetener use among children: epidemiology, recommendations, metabolic outcomes, and future directions. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2011 Dec; 58(6): 1467–1480. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3220878/
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