Even when limiting the sweet-stuff, most parents seriously underestimate the impact of sugar on kids.
But the news isn’t all bad. Get the real nitty-gritty with these surprising facts about sugar and kids, including top science videos on sugar research.
Surprising facts about sugar and kids
#1: Sugar doesn’t make kids hyper.
Despite what millions of parents believe, a ton of scientific research reveals no link between sugar and hyperactivity, a fact supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can read their position statement here.
So why do kids seem to go crazy at birthday parties? Because they are having fun; science says, it’s not the sugar.
#2: Sugar consumption is declining, but still way too high.
The sugar news isn’t all bad. In the US, per capita consumption of added sweeteners peaked in 2000, and is steadily declining, primarily due to increased public awareness and health initiatives.
However, your kids still eat more sugar than you did as a child.
According to studies conducted by the American Heart Association and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the average daily intake of added sugar for children is currently 2-3 times the recommended amount.
#3 Even ‘natural sugars’ are empty calories.
All sugars are empty calories, whether natural or processed. That means even 100% unsweetened juices, honey, and agave syrups contain empty calories.
While choosing “no sugar added” is still a healthier choice, remember natural sugars do provide any nutritional benefit. It’s still sugar.
#4 Sugar messes with your brain.
Ever wonder why kids crave sugar? It’s true; the more sugar kids eat, the more they want.
Sugar releases powerful chemicals in the brain like serotonin, endorphins, and the reward chemical dopamine. No wonder kids can’t live without it!
You may actually feel hungrier after eating certain types of sugar. Research with high-fructose corn syrup shows it increases, rather than suppresses, appetite creating a negative cycle of sugar over-consumption.
And although not directly addictive like sugar, even “artificial sweeteners”, like those in sugar-free gum and diet sodas, can change the taste palate and trick the body into craving more sweetened products.
Due to limited studies in children, the American Academy of Pediatrics has no official recommendations regarding the use of non caloric / artificial sweeteners.
#5 Sugar hides in processed foods.
We all know candy, cookies, and soda drinks are filled with sugar. But do you know these surprising sources of “hidden sugar”?
Everyday “non-sugar” foods are actually sugar-filled. Examples include tomato sauce, salad dressings, yogurts, crackers and even bread.
- Ketchup: 2.25 teaspoons sugar (9 grams) in 2 tablespoons
- Fruit-flavored yogurt: 7.75 teaspoons sugar (31 grams) in 6 ounces
- Breakfast bar: 6.25 teaspoons sugar (25 grams) in 1 bar
Even if you are limiting your child’s intact of candies and cakes, they still may be eating extraordinarily high amounts of sugar through these hidden sources.
#6 Sugar really is toxic.
Oh how we wish it weren’t true! Everyone loves the taste of sugar, but the science supports that sugar only harms, not helps our body.
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease are all linked to sugar intake.