Good and Bad Sugars for Kids

Candy and chocolate bars are often rewarded for good behavior or as a special treat on a shopping trip. It tastes good and usually puts a smile on the faces of kids and adults alike! However, a diet heavy in sugar can cause health problems.  

In this post, we will explore how sugar impacts children’s health and how to recognize good and bad sugars for kids.  

How much sugar is enough? 

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that kids between the ages of two and eighteen should have a maximum of twenty-five grams of sugar daily. That equals about six teaspoons!  

Can you avoid sugar in your diet? 

This is difficult, as many foods naturally contain sugars, whereas many everyday foods include added sugars.

Good & Bad Sugars For Kids 

What are the different types of sugars?  

Sugar is present in lots of different foods. However, some sugars occur naturally, while others are added during food processing and production. The three main types include:  

  • Natural sugars found in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose)
  • Free sugars – naturally occur in honey, syrups, and fruit juices
  • Added sugars – added during the food processing to change the taste

Natural sugars are a great energy source and are often found alongside other essential vitamins. However, added sugar has little or no nutritional value and can cause health problems. 

What are some examples of added sugar to keep an eye out for? 

Popular foods such as candy, chocolate bars, flavored yogurts, ice cream, baked goods, and breakfast cereals include lots of added sugar. Drinks like sodas, flavored milk, and fruit juices often include added sugar. 

It can sometimes be hard to determine the sugar content based on labels alone. Check for ingredients with “ose” at the end, such as fructose, maltose, glucose, and sucrose, as this usually means additional sugar has been added to the food. Other things to look out for include: 

  • Corn syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Molasses

How do you limit your kids’ sugar intake?  

It starts with the foods you buy and make available in your house. You can encourage your kids to eat a range of fruits and vegetables from a young age instead of candy and sweetened cereals. For example, an orange has natural sugars and great minerals for supporting your child’s overall health. Unflavored milk is an excellent source of natural sugars and calcium.  

Educate your children from an early age on the different types of foods and their benefits. If there are no candy bars and cookies in the house, they will be more inclined to eat healthier alternatives, especially if you are a good role model.  

As mentioned above, check the labels before buying foods to see how much sugar is present and whether extra added sugars exist. Many products may claim to be low in sugar but include various ingredients that increase the sugar content.  

Here are some ways to avoid added sugars: 

  • Drink water
  • Limit or avoid soda, sweetened fruit, and sports drinks
  • Drink natural, low-fat milk without flavorings
  • Avoid sugary breakfast cereals 
  • Choose canned fruit in water instead of syrup, or opt for fresh fruit
  • Choose natural yogurt instead of flavored versions

Want to know more about good and bad sugars for kids? 

If you want to discuss your child’s nutrition requirements, book an appointment with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians.