How Much Sugar Is Too Much Sugar for Our Kids? Share +

Posted by: coronadosafe 5 years, 5 months ago

As parents, we know sweets and treats are not healthy, but our kids love them, and we want to make them happy.  After all, it’s ‘just a cupcake,’ (soda, or a candy bar), right?  Why not indulge our children once and a while?  


Sara Vance, Nutritionist and regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, will be joining us for this year’s SAFE Parenting Conference, Successful Parenting: Raising Children in an Age of Overwhelm on January 24th.  Sara will be presenting “Are Toxic Foods Overwhelming Our Kids’ Bodies? “. As a parent, you will walk away from this presentation knowing how foods affect you and your family and how to replace those foods with healthier options that promote balance, health, energy, and longevity.

The issue is three-fold:

1.     It’s not a ‘once in a while’ thing. Sugar is in virtually everything, and we have no idea how much we are really consuming.  According to Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF, “There are 600,000 food items in American grocery stores, 80% of them have added sugar.”  So in addition to the obvious culprits (like candy, cookies), there are the hidden sources of sugar that we don’t even count that are adding up (granola bars, yogurts, cereals).

We also have no idea how much is too much.  The American Heart Association’s recommended limits of added sugar based on the child's age and caloric intake are very stringent:

·       Preschoolers: Up to 4 teaspoons per day.

·       Kids ages 4 to 8: Up to 3 teaspoons a day (elementary aged kids need more nutrition than preschoolers, so they have less room for discretionary calories like added sugars)

·       Pre-teen and teens: 5 to 8 teaspoons per day.

Considering the fact that one soda contains approximately 10 teaspoons, you can see how easy it is to shatter those recommendations every day.  In fact, Americans consume 4 times the recommended amount of added sugar each day.  Teenage boys are getting the most – almost 30 teaspoons a day! Over half of all 8 years olds drink one soda each day, and one third of teenage boys are drinking 3 cans of sodas per day.  In these amounts, sugar is not harmless calories – far from it.

2.     Sugar is like a drug.  Sugar delivers a double-whammy – it is highly addictive and stimulates the appetite. So the more sweet foods a person consumes, the more they want - creating a self-fulfilling cycle.  Sugar affects the brain much in the same way that cocaine does:What Happens to Your Brain on Sugar, Explained by Science.  In rat studies when offered Oreos or cocaine the rats chose the Oreos.

3.     Sugar is not just empty calories. When we are on the sugar rollercoaster for a long period of time, the body is no longer able to process sugars as efficiently as it used to.  This is referred to as insulin resistance, which leads to obesity as well as increases our risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, fatty liver, and a recent study out of UCLA found that diets high in sugar negatively impact our memory and brain function.  New research is now implicating sugar in the dramatic rise of Alzheimer’s disease – now being referred to as Type 3 Diabetes, because the plagues in the brain are similar to those seen in diabetes.  A new documentary called That Sugar Film chronicles a man who ate a "healthy low fat diet" with a high sugar content for 60 days, and measured it's impact on his health.  He ate no candy, sodas, or cookies, just "healthy" items like low fat yogurts, granola bars, fruit juices, and cereals - the kind of things that fill our kids' daily diet.  The results were shocking - he gained 4 inches of fat around his waist, developed fatty liver disease, and suffered from serious mood imbalances.  This was in just 60 days!  He wasn't eating a whole lot more than the average teenage boy.

Although it may not be realistic to completely eliminate sugar from our kids’ diets – there are a number of ways to start to limit it.

3 Tips for Breaking Free from Sugar:

1.     Follow the “Rule of Three” when choosing foods to eat. By getting healthy fat, protein or fiber each time you eat, you will stay off the sugar rollercoaster and feel more satisfied and energized between meals.  When your blood sugar is more stable, you will crave less sugar.

2.     Avoid artificial sweeteners – not only do they stimulate your sweet tooth even more than sugar, artificial sweeteners are made from chemicals which can be excitotoxic to the brain – not good for anyone, and certainly not kids.

3.     Get it out – for a short time, get the sugar and processed foods out of your house – taking a short break can effectively “reset” your sweet tooth.  Skip the sweets for a week, and your taste buds become more sensitive to sweets – so those candies are too sweet, and the apple is just right. Your kids might surprise you with what they choose for dessert after a few days!

 REGISTER NOW to receive the Early Bird Rate for the 2015 Parenting Conference, Successful Parenting: Raising Children in an Age of Overwhelm on January 24th! 

 Click here to view Sara Vance's Nutrition blog!

Click on the video below to see Sara Vance's recent segment on Fox 5 San Diego where she provides tips that make eating healthier easier for the whole family!