The Sweet Truth

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Today, more than 18 percent of school-aged children are obese. The leading cause of this national epidemic is the overconsumption of sugar. The World Health Organization issued a recommendation in 2015 that everyone, regardless of age, should restrict his or her sugar intake to less than 10 percent of all calories consumed daily. For young children, that’s fewer than 45 grams each day.

Few children can monitor their own sugar intake, nor are they responsible for their own diets. This responsibility falls to the parents. Most of us are not adept at estimating how much sugar is found in foods, so let’s try to think of sugar content in terms of sugar cubes (1 teaspoon sugar equals 1 sugar cube). Educate yourself and learn how much sugar is in fruits and yogurts, and think of these items in terms of cubes. Four ounces of apple juice contains three teaspoons of sugar, which equates to three cubes.

A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development discovered that 75 percent of parents underestimated the amount of sugar in foods. Sugars found in yogurt were grossly miscalculated by about seven sugar cubes or 60 percent of total sugar in a serving. The study also showed that these miscalculations  significantly correlated to the child’s body weight. Children with the highest body-mass index (BMI) had parents who tended to underestimate sugar content.  Most noteworthy was that this study found that a “health halo” surrounding foods like fruit juice and yogurts caused parents to misjudge sugar contents. 

Parents, please take note to help your children achieve optimal health by learning sugar servings in those presumably “healthful” foods.

Here’s to your health!



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