New Study Finds That Sugar Makes Up Large Portion Of Average Child’s Diet

by Jessa McClure on April 19, 2012

in Healthy Living

close up of sugar cubesAccording to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 16 percent of a child’s daily caloric intake is from added sugars.

These sugars can stem from processed foods and sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. These added sugars can be found in products like sodas, sports drinks, and fruit juices.

Too much sugar in a child’s daily diet can put them at increased risk for excessive weight gain which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

“And with the right risks, the abnormal weight gain could lead to a lot of other problems including liver disease, cholesterol problems and high blood pressure,” said Matthew D. Stephen, MD, Pediatric Endocrinologist at McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White. “In young women, menstrual concerns can be a consequence of eating an abnormal amount of sugar-containing foods and drinks.”

No parent wants their child to be at risk for serious diseases, but the study found that 66 percent of high-sugar foods were consumed at home.

So, how can you keep your child’s sugar intake from getting out of control?

“What parents buy obviously influences what’s available for them to eat,” Dr. Stephen said. “So, I would encourage parents to be careful about what they buy and regulate what their kids are eating and drinking.”

The pediatric endocrinologist said that the best way to cut a large amount of sugar out of your child’s diet is by eliminating regular sodas, sports drinks, juices and sweet teas from their diet.

“What parents buy obviously influences what’s available for them to eat,” Dr. Stephen said. “So, I would encourage parents to be careful about what they buy and regulate what their kids are eating and drinking.”

“Anything that is sugar sweetened like that offers really no nutritional value whatsoever, and is just a source of extra calories, which can lead to extra weight gain.”

Sugar consumption has increased over the past 20 years and has become seemingly more available.

“Part of it is being driven by the accessibility to these products and how cheap they are,” Dr. Stephen said. “They’re so pervasive in our society and they’re very affordable, which is leading to more eating and drinking of these products.”

Where can parents find resources to help decrease the amount of sugar intake and create healthy meals?

Choosemyplate.gov is a great resource,” he said.

The site also offers plans for weight management and recommendations for physical activity.

“It’s a balance of monitoring the diet and physical activity, and you really can’t start soon enough,” Dr. Stephen said.

Starting good habits, even in the first couple of years of life, can give your child a good start to lead a healthy life.

“It’s important to be attentive to what you’re feeding your kids and regulating what is in the house and readily available,” he said. “And make sure they’re staying active and not just sitting in front of the TV, computer, or video games all day long.”

For more information about sugar intake and how you can give your child a healthy start, visit choosemyplate.gov. There are various great resources including Let’s Move! and Get Fit Temple that offer suggestions for increased physical activity to compliment diet changes

How do you keep sugar consumption down at your house? What are some tasty, yet healthy foods you give your kids to curb sweet cravings?

  • Stephen in Orlando

    We are definitely eating too much sugar. All this excess sugar consumption has had some negative effects on the health of the American population. Did you know that 17% of the children and adolescents in the US are obese?? Some changes definitely need to be made. Unfortunately many people aren’t aware of the high sugar content of many foods that they take for granted. There is a brand new info-graphic which illustrates how sugar consumption is changing America. It also shows some foods which are surprisingly high in sugar. Check it out at 
    http://www.availclinical.com/news/sugar-rush-how-sugar-consumption-is-changing-america-infographic/. 

  • Stephen Trevathan

    Hello again, I just wanted to share another interesting article I found that is related to this topic. Recently, a study was conducted in Canada that showed that overweight children were significantly more likely to get on prescription medication than average weight children. This is shocking mainly for the implications this could have on health care costs in the future. You can read the article at: http://www.clinicaltrialsgps.com/news/overweight-children-are-twice-as-likely-to-require-medication/

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