This past summer, the American Heart Association changed the recommended sugar intake for children. The new recommendations are that children should have less than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugars a day and less than one glass of a sugar-sweetened drink per week, a result of studies that demonstrate the harmful effects of sugar on children.
When a child consumes sugar, it triggers the reward area of their brain without allowing them to feel satiated – they crave more and eat more. We’ve all seen our kids at Halloween, or just snack time, doing exactly that! But weight gain isn’t the only problem associated with sugar. There has been an increase in metabolic conditions like diabetes and heart disease in children – according to some research, not related to their weight – but linked to their sugar intake.
On the dental side, anytime sugar is consumed it also feeds bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria turn the sugar into acid and essentially melt holes into teeth – forming cavities, also called “dental caries.” The less frequently a child eats sugar, the less likely they are to develop cavities.
Sugar is included in many foods and beverages that you might not realize. Often, advertisements promote food or beverages as “healthy” which actually contain significant amounts of added sugar. To help you better estimate your children’s snacks according to the new AHA guidelines we have included the below picture. Sugar quantities can also be found on the individual nutrition facts label of each food and drink. We encourage you to take a look when shopping for food.
According to research, cutting sugar can improve a child’s health in as little as 10 days. We at Smiles 4 Kids are always here to suggest tasty snacks that are low in sugar, good for teeth and children’s overall health!