When it comes to our children, we want the best, right? It may be hard to make sure that happens, especially when it comes to food. We can help guide their meals, but there come times when we have no control over the food choices they make.
We don’t mean to be the bearers of bitter news, but the data analysis from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey research study recently showed that American toddlers consume more sugar than what’s recommended for adult women.
So, just how much sugar? The amount added up to about 7 teaspoons for kids; 6 teaspoons is the recommended max for adult women.
The results came from a 2011 to 2014 research study of 800 children aged 6 to 23 months.
The analysis found that 85% of the surveyed infants and toddlers ate added sugar every day.
And unfortunately, it gets worse: that percentage grew with age.
Over 60% of infants aged to 6 to 11 months consumed an average of just under 1 teaspoon of sugar each day, yet the ages of 12 to 18 months, jumped 98% to 5.5 teaspoons!
As for the amount of toddlers consuming 7 teaspoons? That amounted to 99% of the toddlers aged 12 to 18 months, who participated in the study.
We have to do better!
Why Is This Important?
Children pick up routines as they mature. If a kid starts off their life consuming high amounts of sugary products, it could become so normal that they continue doing it for the rest of their life.
Yikes, that’s bad! As a parent or role model, you want to set kids up for success, not disaster.
You might be wondering…well, is it really that bad? Eventually, they will grow out of it, right? While some people do break bad habits as they grow up, others continue and matters only get worse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 children and adolescents are affected by obesity.
And that number is still pretty high when those children eventually grow up.
Obesity can lead to a host of health problems down the line. According to the CDC, some related condition include:
- cardiovascular disease (CVD) including high blood pressure and cholesterol
- type 2 diabetes and associated issues, such as insulin resistance and glucose intolerance
- asthma, sleep apnea and other breathing issues
- fatty liver disease and gastro-esophageal reflux
- joint problems
- adult obesity
The CDC also makes special note on how obesity can affect children mentally, with issues like:
- Anxiety and depression
- low self-esteem
- social anxieties from bullying and social stigma
It’s not all about weight
If you’re thinking, “well, my child is a healthy weight, so they are healthy” you may need to look a little deeper to ensure the health of your child. It’s important to know that weight is not always the sign of unhealthiness. A few other warning signs may be:
- Behavior: Scarily, sugar can affect kids, like alcohol affects adults. Like some adults who drink so regularly that they’ve built up an intolerance, kids can build an intolerance to sugar if they consume it often. If your child’s behavior doesn’t get altered after eating an ice cream or drinking a soda, this may be an unhealthy warning sign.
- Dental issues: Tooth decay and cavities can be physical evidence of too much sugar.
- Thirst quencher: Often time, when a child is healthy and thirsty, they choose water. However, if a child consumes too much sugar and are thirsty, they tend to reach for sweet beverages like juice or soda.
What Can You Do?
For starters, the Million Mom Movement, founded by Purium’s President Amy Venner-Hamdi, is a great resource for families who want to have a lifestyle makeover.
Additionally, moderating how much your child consumes can make them a little fussy now, but you’re helping them out in the long run.
Here are tips and tricks you can try:
- Introduce more greens into their diet, to help boost overall health. This may be tricky at first and may be a slow process, but there are tons of “sneaky” techniques to try.
- Always pay attention to sugar content, even in snack packages. Several packages will add up in the future, so be sure the sugar content is low.
- Make healthy substitutions. For example, if your child loves drinking a particular sugar-filled chocolate milk every day, swap that out for our MVP Kids – Chocolate mix.
- Encourage your child to help with meal decisions. Looping them in will help them understand why its important to be mindful with their diets. Plus, they’ll be less cranky if they feel they made the decision to buy sugar-free cookies and not you.
With some areas of the world are placing higher taxes on high-sugar products, the world is moving closer and closer to a more health-centric society. We’re hopeful!
Check out our healthy Kids line in our family collection.