What Sugar Does To Your Kids

Let's start with the good news…kids are consuming less sugar now than they were in 2000. However now in 2015, a higher percent of their total calories comes from added sugar. Added sugar can put kids at risk for obesity and other health problems.

Kids may be more sensitive to sugar then adults, they even seem to be biologically wired to crave it. Children in this country eat the equivalent of 34 teaspoons of sugar per day. Compare that to the 22 teaspoons adults consume on average, both of which are significantly higher than the recommended 6-teaspoon-per-day limit for adults. 

A study in The Lancet reviewed the link between childhood obesity and sugar consumption. Research found that children who consume sugar-sweetened drinks had the highest probability of being obese.

Hyperactive children seem to metabolize sugar differently in response to high-sugar meals. These kids increase their output of the stress hormone called cortisol, which plays an important role in regulating blood sugar levels. Studies of children’s high-sugar diets show that while activity levels go up for both normal and hyperactive kids, the hyperactive kids also become aggressive.

Starting healthy eating habits early with your children is imperative to ensuring they become healthy adults. Studies show that when your child eats a low-sugar breakfast, they can be more productive at school with an improved attention span and short-term memory. 

One study done recently in the Bay Area showed how much a child’s health can be improved by eliminating sugar from their diet for just ten days. By reducing sugar, even without reducing calories, the study proved that sugar is toxic because it’s sugar, not just because it has extra calories.

There are many ways to get your kids more involved in the preparation of healthy family meals and desserts – PBS Parents has great recipes (like these blueberry oatmeal muffins), and most counties have programs to help families be more healthy. By, the way, have you read the Potter the Otter books? Potter encourages kids to drink more water – another important way to keep kids healthy.

For the “sweet” holidays coming up - Christmas Valentine’s and Easter - you might adapt the Halloween Switch Witch idea – take away the candy and leave a special gift in its place.

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