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Is your child hooked on sugar?

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UK children each consume the equivalent of how many sugar cubes a year?

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UK children each consume the equivalent of how many sugar cubes a year?

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  • Correct Answer:

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but statistics show that UK kids between the ages of 4 and 10 are eating over 60 grams a day of the white stuff. That adds up to over 22kg a year, which happens to be the average weight of a 5 year old. Eating more than your body weight in sugar each year can have serious health consequences. Read on to find out the facts about sugar.

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Which of these are signs your child may have an unhealthy sugar habit?

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Which of these are signs your child may have an unhealthy sugar habit?

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Like adults, children are sensitive to sugar. This can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and worse still, a craving for more sugary foods to enjoy. Of course, sugar contains empty calories, so the risk of your child gaining weight or even becoming obese, is very real if their diet consists mainly of sugar and sugary drinks, confectionery, cakes and biscuits. That sweet tooth habit may damage the quality of your child's diet as well as their teeth.

All sugary foods have the same effect on a child’s body.

All sugary foods have the same effect on a child’s body.

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The sugar found naturally in grapes, banana and other whole fruits isn’t included in current sugar limits, as these foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, essential in your child’s diet. Milk sugar also isn’t included, as it is naturally part of the milk, and milk adds valuable calcium and protein to your child’s diet.

You know your child’s food choice is high in sugar if:

You know your child’s food choice is high in sugar if:

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According to the Food Standards Agency, a food product is high in sugar if it contains more than 22.5 grams of sugar per 100g. It’s low in sugar if it contains 5 grams or less of total sugars per 100g.

 

Don’t rely on whether a product “looks” sugary or claims to be “free” of certain additives. The only way to establish how much sugar it contains is by looking the nutrition label. Some labels have “traffic light” coding which makes it simpler to see if a product is high in fat, salt or sugar. Red indicates high, amber indicates medium and green indicates low.

Feeding children savoury food is a good way to avoid sugar.

Feeding children savoury food is a good way to avoid sugar.

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It’s not just sweet food that contains added sugar. An array of savoury food is also loaded with added sugar. The list includes:

  • Tomato ketchup
  • Sauces, chutneys and marinades
  • Some dried fruit snacks, glacé fruits and yoghurt-coated dried fruits.

So, slathering tomato ketchup on your child’s fish fingers adds a teaspoon of added sugar for every generous 20g of ketchup. Watch out for ready meals too. A Which? consumer survey found some of them contain as much sugar as vanilla ice cream!

Replacing sweets with dried fruit will prevent tooth decay in kids.

Replacing sweets with dried fruit will prevent tooth decay in kids.

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Studies show up to half the young children in the UK have tooth decay and sugar is the main culprit. Fresh fruit is definitely a better choice than a sticky fruit sweet, but fruit still contains sugar. Dried fruit like raisins stick to tooth surfaces, so better to choose whole, fresh fruit that is less likely to trigger decay. Once fruit has been juiced or blended into a fruit smoothie, fruit acids are released and can be more damaging to teeth, so limit fruit juice to one 150ml glass a day and serve at mealtimes.

Which of these drinks is the healthiest choice for children?

Which of these drinks is the healthiest choice for children?

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Sugar is found naturally in milk, but lactose isn’t as bad for your teeth. Milk also contains calcium and other vitamins and minerals. If plain milk doesn’t appeal to your child, you can blend your own milkshake with soft fruit like mango, banana or strawberries.

 

Unlike a juice, a juice drink is a combination of fruit juice, water and added sugar – so like “fizzy” drinks and squash cordials they’re all high sugar choices. One can of cola can contain up to 9 cubes of sugar.  

Biscuits or sweets with lunch are fine as a sweet treat.

Biscuits or sweets with lunch are fine as a sweet treat.

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Dessert is a hard habit to break, but teaching your children to expect it after a meal may not be a good idea, especially if your child is prone to being overweight.

 

Try to reduce sugar in your child's sweet treats. Good options include:

  • Frozen fruit bars
  • Oatmeal biscuits
  • Breadsticks
  • Nuts and dried fruit mixes (no whole nuts for under 5s)
  • Mini cheese portion

For cakes and pastries, use fruit purees or sugar-free jams and chopped fruit instead of sugar.

Which of these is a healthy option for an after-school snack?

Which of these is a healthy option for an after-school snack?

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Does your child get home from school and head straight for a sugary fizzy drink, chocolate bar or packet of crisps? It’s a quick fix for hunger but it won’t satisfy their appetite for long. Better choices include protein, whole grains or natural produce like cheese, fruit and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates and protein, like cheese and wholegrain crackers, cheese spread on toast, or bread with peanut butter, will keep them full till teatime.

 

Teach new habits: put the biscuit tin away in a cupboard and leave the fruit bowl stocked with ripe pears, apples, bananas and little boxes of dried fruit like apricots or raisins. It also helps them get the recommended '5-a-day' portions of fruit and veg.

Which of these problems is not linked to sugar consumption?

Which of these problems is not linked to sugar consumption?

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  • Correct Answer:

Type 1 diabetes is a result of genetic and other unknown factors that lead to a condition where insulin injections are needed daily to replace the insulin not being made by the pancreas.

 

Type 2 diabetes is linked to weight – being overweight or obese increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. Whilst eating or drinking too much sugar doesn’t directly cause diabetes, it can contribute to weight gain, a major type 2 diabetes risk factor.

 

Latest UK statistics show a third of 10-11 year-olds and over one in five 4-5 year olds are obese or overweight.

How much sugar a child should have depends on the:

How much sugar a child should have depends on the:

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You should take into account your child’s age to gauge how much added sugar they should have in their daily diet. The NHS recommends sugar shouldn’t make up more than 5% of your daily calorie intake and suggests this general daily guide:

  • 4-6 year olds: no more than 19 grams (5 sugar cubes)
  • 7-10 year olds: no more than 24g (6 sugar cubes)
  • 11+ year olds: no more than 30g (7 sugar cubes)

Statistics show that sugar consumption is highest among 11 to 18 year olds.

 

Remember that ‘added’ sugars aren’t counted in the same way as sugars found naturally in fresh or frozen fruits, and milk. It’s the intake of sugars added to drinks, cereals, cakes and biscuits that we need to reduce.

To wean your child off sugar you should:

To wean your child off sugar you should:

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A low sugar meal plan may involve gradually swapping sugary cereals for less sugary versions. Use front-of-pack labelling to help you quickly select the healthiest options whilst shopping, or download the ‘Sugar Smart’ app for your phone from Change4Life. The app allows you to scan barcodes on food to reveal the total sugar contained in everyday products. It also provides other tips and tactics to help curb your little one’s sweet tooth.

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Your Score:   You correctly answered   out of   questions.
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Well done. You didn’t have to get sugared up to succeed!

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