Experts Blame Sugary Drinks for Health Issues in Children

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Ideas offered to help families cut down on the sweet stuff

Children are consuming too much sugar – especially in sweetened beverages – and medical experts say that high consumption can lead to serious health issues.

In a joint statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recently endorsed a collection of public health measures – including excise taxes, limits on marketing to children and financial incentives for purchasing healthier beverages – designed to reduce kids’ consumption of sugary drinks.

American dietary guidelines recommends children and teens consume fewer than 10% of calories from added sugar, but data show kids now consume 17% of their calories from added sugars, nearly half of that coming from sweetened drinks.

Syrups and sugar are added to foods when they are prepared or processed. Among the added sugars are brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar and sucrose.

Parent can take measures to help reduce added-sugar intake by doing the following:

  • Read nutrition facts labels carefully. Many foods now list added sugar separately.
  • Aim for less than 25 grams, or about six teaspoons, of added sugar per day for kids age 2 and up.
  • Avoid serving drinks with added sugar to children under 2.
  • Serve water and milk instead of sugary drinks. Milk contains natural sugar called lactose and provides calcium, protein, vitamin D and other nutrients children need.
  • Avoid soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, sweetened coffee and fruit drinks.
  • Limit fruit juice because it has more sugar than the fruit itself. The AAP recommends no more than 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice daily for kids aged 1-3; 4-6 ounces for children ages 4-6; and 8 ounces for kids 7-14.
  • Avoid processed foods, prepacked food and drinks as sugar is added to them during processing. Added sugars are hidden in foods such as ketchup, dried cranberries, salad and baked beans.

Health issues that result from consuming too much added sugars range from abnormal cholesterol levels, including high LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, higher triglycerides and lower “good” HDL cholesterol, according to the AAP. They also are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

 


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Tags: Children's Health

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