The dangers of refined sugar for kids

Caring For Our Kids

Too much sugar can make us sick. That’s why the federal government continues to urge Americans to cut way back on sugar. That can be tough for kids.

Dr. Chad Thornhill with GI for Kids at Children’s Hospital.says 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.

Kids can have an intolerance to sugar. Thornhill kids are often referred to his office because they begin having lots of tummy problems. It’s called sucrose intolerance. The body creates an enzyme to help break down sugar so it can be absorbed into the body. When there is a deficiency of that enzyme, kids suffer many side effects including abdominal pain/cramping, excessive gas, diarrhea and vomiting. Those children have to do their best to avoid all sucrose.

The FDA suggests kids eat no more than six teaspoons or about 30 grams of added sugar a day. One candy bar or soda far exceeds that. Foods that are high in added sugar also tend to be high in calories and low in nutrition.

Moderation is key. It’s okay for kids to have birthday cake or an ice cream on special occasions, but it’s best to cut back on foods with 15 grams of sugar or more. It’s easy to go overboard because sugar leaves us craving more

Label reading is the best form of prevention because sugar in foods can be called lots of things. There are more than 60 different names for sugar listed on food labels. Here are just a few examples:

  • Sucrose
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Cane syrup
  • Corn sweetener
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose
  • Agave nectar
  • Maltodextrin

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