What Consuming Sugar does to our Children
Most children are consuming as many as 60-70 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is more than 20 times the daily allowance of 3 teaspoons recommended by the American Heart Association for ages 4-8. However, not all parents are aware that sugar can be found in some of the most unsuspecting food products such as crisps, savory crackers or even bread. There are numerous health effects that an over-abundance of sugar can have on children.
More Sensitive than Adults
Dr. Keith Conners, author of Feeding the Brain, has stated that children are far more sensitive to the effects of sugar than adults in that the younger they are, the more pronounced the effects of it will be. He stated that this could be because the brain grows far more rapidly during the early years (preschool and before), which in turn makes the effects of sugar far more obvious. Another study involved giving one group of preschool children high sugar drinks and the other group non-sugary drinks. The group who consumed sugar experienced decreased learning ability.
An Addictive Substance
Sugar is known to alter a person’s palate in that the more it is consumed, the more it will be craved. In fact, it has become known as one of the most addictive natural substances known to man. Consuming an excessive amount of sugar also results in the depletion of zinc stores in the body, which is an essential nutrient when it comes to the development of taste in young children. Drastically reducing the amount of sugar consumed will enable children to enjoy the natural sweetness and taste of foods such as fruits and vegetables instead.
Parents often think they are ‘doing the right thing’ by giving their kids toast, juice and cereal for breakfast. However, these 3 items can collectively contain as many as 17 spoons of sugar – in a single meal. Food products such as the white bread used to make the toast can contain 1 teaspoon of sugar per slice, while most kids’ cereals contain between 3 and 5 spoons of sugar per serving. Even a seemingly innocent glass of fruit juice can contain as many as 10 spoons of fruit-based sugar. Another unsuspecting food that contains excessively high amounts of sugar is dried fruit.
Incorrect Allergy Diagnoses
Excess amounts of sugar can cause children to display cold-like symptoms such as stuffy noses, excessive mucus, sinus infections and runny noses. Dr. Julie L. Wei, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, FL stated that many of her child patients displayed these symptoms and had initially been diagnosed with allergies. However, upon further investigation, it was noted that the children in question consumed excessive amounts of sugar each day.
Mood Disorders and Behavioral Problems
Research has found that there is a definite link between children who consume excess amounts of sugar and mood disorders such as aggression, general moodiness, anxiety and ADHD. Sugar prevents the body from being able to absorb the nutrients and micronutrients that are responsible for controlling impulsive and/or aggressive behavior. One of the biggest culprits when it comes to excessive sugar consumption is soft drinks, with many children now consuming between 2 and 5 cans or glasses per day.
Immune System Destruction
In addition to causing severe behavioral issues, sugar can also wreak complete havoc on a child’s immune system. It does this by destroying the functions of the healthy bacteria that are responsible for fighting against infections and illnesses for up to 5 hours after being consumed. This is more than enough time for a child to contract an illness from someone else. In addition, sugar interferes with the absorption of Vitamin C into the body, which further enhances a child’s chances of getting sick.
Severe Tooth Decay
When children consume sugar, it raises the acidity levels in their mouths rapidly. If left unchecked or if sugar is consumed continually throughout the day, it leads to the development of tooth decay. One survey that was carried out by Public Health England in September 2013 indicated that as many as 28% of children under the age of 5 years suffered from varying degrees of tooth decay as a result of consuming excessive amounts of sugar on a daily basis. The American Dental Association has stated tooth decay can start taking place when sugar is left in the mouth for as little as 20 minutes.
Unstable Blood Sugar Levels
Consuming large amounts of refined sugar results in a sharp spike in blood sugar levels, which in turn causes the body to produce and release a large amount of insulin. This causes most children to become extremely hyperactive, and this behavior can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. However, this level of hyperactivity then causes sugar levels to drop way below normal, which can result in the development of hypoglycemia. Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include moodiness, headaches, excessive perspiration and severe fatigue.
Reducing Sugar Consumption
The best way to limit sugar consumption in children is to not keep sugary snacks or drinks on hand. Instead, provide them with plenty of healthy options such as low-fat dairy products, wholegrains vegetables and fruits. Although fruits are healthy, they should be given in moderation, as they contain sugar as well. It is imperative that children avoid sweetened beverages as far as possible, especially when it comes to fizzy drinks or boxed fruit juices. Instead, aim to provide them with as much water, unflavored milk or freshly squeezed juices when a sweet craving hits. The fresh juices can be diluted a little to help prevent children from becoming used to their sweet taste over time.
Other common names for sugar include sucrose, lactose, fructose, sorbitol, corn syrup, malt, molasses, golden syrup, invert sugar and even fruit extract. An excess consumption of sugar has also been linked to weight gain, and with more than 25% of children today that are classified as being overweight or obese, it is crucial for parents to check the ingredient labels of all food products that are purchased.SHARE THIS STUFF!