Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 10th 2016 Contents B26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, November 10, 2016
A lollipop after a morning doctor
visit. A cupcake for a classmate s
birthday with lunch. A bag of cookies,
gummies or a few little doughnuts
before after-school activities begin.
And dessert is still a few hours away.
Even the word snack---once thought
of as a healthy, energising source of
calories for children---can seem like a
euphemism for an IV sugar solution
US dietary guidelines recommend
consuming less than 10 per cent of
daily calories from added sugars. On a
1,500-calorie diet, a level appropriate
for moderately active four---to eight-
year-olds, just less than 10 per cent
would be about 33 grams of added sug-
ars per day.
In August, the American Heart Asso-
ciation issued stricter sugar recom-
mendations designed to keep kids
healthy, stating that children should
consume less than six teaspoons---or
24 grams---of added sugars per day. It
also recommended that children and
teens should limit their intake of sugar-
sweetened drinks to no more than eight
ounces per week.
Research suggests that babies are
naturally inclined to crave sugar as soon
as they exit the womb. It s not a pref-
erence at this very early stage but rather
a biological reality. To complicate mat-
ters, consuming sugar causes kids to
crave even more of the sweet stuff.
It s no wonder it can seem nearly
impossible to curb our kids intake when
you take into account not only cake
and soda but such foods as sweetened
yogurt and breakfast cereal.
The health effects of sugar
The negative health effects of con-
suming too much sugar can appear well
before adulthood and are not just lim-
ited to weight gain and obesity. In fact,
you probably wouldn t serve your child
beer or wine, but according to one
researcher, too much sugar could have
some similar effects.
"Sugar (specifically fructose) is
metabolised in the liver just like alcohol,"
said Dr Robert Lustig, a professor of
pediatrics at the University of California,
San Francisco. "This is why children
are getting the diseases of alcohol, like
type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease,
without the alcohol. These are diseases
that were unheard-of in children prior
According to the CDC s 2014 diabetes
report card (PDF), more than 5,000
new cases of type 2 diabetes are esti-
mated to be diagnosed among Amer-
icans younger than age 20 each year.
There s also been an increased preva-
lence of metabolic syndrome in ado-
lescents; that s a cluster of conditions,
including increased blood pressure and
excess fat around the waist, that can
increase diabetes and heart disease risk.
Lustig s recent research, published in
the Public Health Nutrition journal,
found that it wasn t the fault of the
pounds that sugar packs on to young
people; it was another result of excess
"Sugar doesn t cause disease just
because of its calories. Sugar causes
disease because it s sugar," Lustig said.
"Thin people get metabolic diseases
like type 2 diabetes, too. Obesity
increases the risk, but sugar is an inde-
pendent risk factor apart from calories
So what can parents do to keep sugar
from overtaking their kids diets? Here
are a few suggestions from experts.
Don t deprive your kids of sweets.
Despite the consequences, health pro-
fessionals agree that parents shouldn t
deprive their child of sweets.
"Sugar is not a toxin that must be
excluded from a child s diet," Isoldi
said. "Often, children who have sweets
restricted and feel deprived will not
learn how to regulate sweets. Instead,
they often overindulge whenever the
possibility is presented.
"The key is to help children find a
balance with food, helping them learn
how to enjoy healthy foods and enjoy
(and self-regulate) treats."
Even Lustig agrees. "I m for dessert
---for dessert. I m not for dessert for
breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks,"
Allow children one sweet
treat or dessert per day
Good choices include animal crackers,
vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. How-
ever, if kids are set on having chocolate
chip cookies, this should not create a
"food fight," Isoldi said. And---deep
breath---don t restrict portions, even if
it makes you anxious to watch.
"Parents should let their little one
decide on the amount to eat, because
only allowing one or two cookies will
create a restrictive environment that is
counterproductive." That doesn t mean
that you have to offer the whole box,
however. You can start by giving your
child two cookies, but instead of saying,
"You may have only two cookies, do
you hear me?" you can instead say,
"Here are two cookies. Oh, you want
three? Sure." The idea is that your child
should be able to learn his or her own
internal satiety cues, which can ulti-
mately help prevent eating issues later
Keep fruit drinks, soda and sugary
beverages out of the house
"There s no nutritional benefit to
drinking sugar-sweetened beverages,"
Isoldi said. And although liquid calories
can still add up, you don t feel as full
as you would from solid foods. The
result? People who drink sugary bev-
erages don t necessarily cut back on
their calorie intake to compensate.
For an alternative to soda, dilute four
ounces unsweetened juice with four
ounces seltzer water and flavour with
lemon, lime or other fresh fruit.
Watch out for sugars in foods that
you don't think of as sweet
Keep an eye on breads, sauces and
condiments by searching ingredient
lists for names such as high fructose
corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, sucrose
or other words ending in "ose," evap-
How to control sugar in your child's diet
orated cane juice, brown rice syrup,
malt syrup and molasses.
Many people think that "natural"
sugars like honey and agave are healthier
than ones that are more highly
processed, like sucrose or table sugar.
But when you look closely, you see that
all of these sugars contain fructose and
glucose. And while honey may offer
some antioxidants, you would probably
have to consume a lot of honey calories
in order to experience any health ben-
efits. Honey and agave are actually
sweeter than table sugar and contain
more calories: One teaspoon of sucrose
has 16 calories, while 1 teaspoon of
agave or honey has 21 calories.
This doesn t mean foods containing
natural sugars aren t healthy. But how
these natural sugars are packaged mat-
A piece of whole fruit like an apple
contains naturally occurring fructose,
but it also delivers 4.4 grams of fiber,
thanks to the peel and pulp. Apple juice,
on the other hand, lacks fiber and is
a more concentrated source of sugar
and calories. (cnn.com)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Don't deprive children of snacks, but do teach children about
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