KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Too much sugar could be making us sick. That’s why the federal government has been urging Americans in recent years to cut back on sugar. But, that can be really tough with children.

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital clinical dietitian Shelly Spoerre shares how sugar can cause problems, suggestions for healthier alternatives, and daily recommended limits.

What’s the harm in too much sugar?

Too much added sugar, the kind found in processed foods, contributes to weight gain and tooth decay, and can increase the risk of serious diseases like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. These diseases begin in childhood.

Suggestions for healthier snacks with little to no added sugar

Unhealthy and sugary snacks, like candy bars, powdered donuts and peanut butter sandwich cookies, have 4 to 7 teaspoons of added sugar compared to healthier choices for snacks.

Teach kids to read labels to help make better choices. Sugar is in lots of foods we eat, not just the sweet ones. The FDA suggests kids eat no more than 6 teaspoons, about 30 grams, of added sugar a day.

  • GO food – 5 grams or less of sugar (That’s 1 tsp of added sugar and safe to eat more frequently.)
  • SLOW food – 10-14 grams (Eat in moderation.)
  • WHOA food – 15 grams (Rarely eat, maybe a slice of cake at a birthday party but not daily.)

For more information:

Fat, Salt and Sugar: Not All Bad

Carbohydrates, Sugar, and Your Child