How Salt, Sugar And Fat Are Becoming The Biggest Health Threat To Kids.
August 13, 2021
Nowadays,It’s so easy to feed our children too much sugar, salt and fat without even knowing especially with the proliferation of advertising through internet and mobile devices.
Getting children to consume less sugar, salt and fat is a battle worth fighting by parents irrespective of geographical locations.
Treat, by definition, should be something that will be introduced to the kids once in a blue moon or occasionally. — a sweet, decadent break from a diet filled with fruits and vegetables.
If this few sentences above made you laugh, am sure you are not alone. Below are the recent facts from the American Heart Association recommendation versus the real situation of what we give our kids to eat.
American Heart Association Sugar Recommendation
Kids under age 2 years should not eat any added sugar. Children between 2 to 18 years should limit added sugar consumption to 25g per day.
The Sugary Real Situation : Toddlers eat an average of more than 29g of sugar per day. The average American child eats 79g.
America Heart Association Salt Recommendation
The AHA recommends that both children and adults eat less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
The Salty true status : Children ages 2-19 eat an average of more than 3,100mg of sodium per day. Which is more than double the recommended amount.
America Heart Association Fat Recommendation
Fat should account for 30 to 35 percent of daily calories for kids aged 2-3, and 25 to 35 percent for kids aged 4-18. What should be monitor really are you really are saturated fats and trans fats. Any amount of trans fat is harmful.
The Fatty true status : It’s unclear how much fat the average child eats on a daily basis. However, if your child is eating fried foods or baked goods on a regular basis, they’re probably getting excessive trans fat.
The World Health Organisation says sugar should make up no more than 5% of our daily diet. But in the UK, that figure is 11.6% for adults and a massive 15.2% for children.
So it very important that we are deliberate about our little ones’ sugar intake right from the moment they’re weaned. The toddler years are really crucial because that’s where their future eating patterns will take its root.
Effect of too much sugar in Kids Diets .
- Sugar damages our teeth.
- Eating too much also makes kids overweight.
- It also put them at risk of high blood pressure in their adult life.
- Diabetes and heart disease is another disease that is most likely to occur in the kids adult life too, due to excessive sugar intake in food.
The bitter truth is, a lot of the sugar we eat is hidden in the food we buy – even in savoury food. A recent study found that foods specially aimed at children, like yoghurts, breakfast cereals and ready meals, were some of the sweetest of all.
For instance, did you know that:
- A glass of orange or apple juice contains as much sugar as your coca-cola. That is s 6 teaspoons in a 250ml glass.
- Dried fruits such as like raisins are almost all sugar even though they are rich in fibre.
- Shop-bought pizzas can be high in sugar: some have 1-2 teaspoons per 100g.
- Children’s yoghurts and fromage frais can contain three teaspoons of sugar in a standard 100g pot.
- Jars of pasta sauces can have as much as one and a half teaspoons of sugar in a small portion.
- Children’s breakfast cereals can by sky-high in sugar – even the healthy-sounding ones can have three teaspoons of sugar per small 30g bowl.
- One squirt of ketchup contains over one teaspoon of sugar.
As mums, we know our little ones often find it hard to eat enough vegetables, but love fruit juice because it’s sweet. So it’s easy to let them have lots of juice, fruit and dried fruits. These are fine in as much as its in moderation, but the truth is we’re probably all eating too much of it.
Tips for cutting down on sugar
- Have lots of savoury snacks at the ready and replace cereal/dried fruit bars, sweet yoghurts, biscuits and cake for whole fruit, vegetable sticks and hummus, unflavoured popcorn, toast fingers and cheese.
- Give them one or two portions of fruit a day, but make available for them the lowest-sugar fruits like berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), peaches, pears and kiwis while total avoidance of highest sugar fruits such as grapes, melon, pineapple and sweet apple varieties.
- Go for complete fruits rather than juice as the whole fruit contains fibre that will tone down the effect of the sugar hit on your child’s body.
- Whenever you do give juice, mix it and serve at mealtimes rather than as a snack to protect their teeth. Don’t give them fizzy drinks until they’re older, and its best they have it occasionally.
- Pay attention to food labels designs. Sugar is often called other names on the ingredients list.e.g : concentrated fruit juice, fructose, golden syrup, inverted sugar syrup, molasses, and sucrose.
Here’s a breakdown of the different kinds of sugar and their sources:
- Fructose is fruit sugar and in fruit.
- Maltose is malt sugar and is found in germinating grains. Its mostly used in malted milkshakes and malted candy.
- Lactose is milk sugar and obtained in milk.
- Dextrose is made synthetically from starch and is known “corn sugar.”
- Sucrose is refined sugar or table sugar made from sugar cane and sugar beet (and almost all sugar beets are genetically modified which makes the sugar even more dangerous).
It is common knowledge not to add salt to your baby’s food, as babies under one should have no more than 1g a day.
Their tiny kidneys is not strong enough to cope with it. But even when they’ve turned one, we still have to be careful not to add salt.
From aged one to three the Government advises a maximum of 2g a day (3g for kids aged 4-6). But because salt is added to so many of the foods we buy, it’s easy accidentally to eat too much.
Salt is added to breakfast cereals (although the amount has been cut in recent years), ready made soups, sauces and ketchup. If the label says ‘sodium’ you have to multiply by 2.5 to get the amount of salt.
The results of these disparities are a real national health crisis.
- 18.5 percent of kids age two to 19 are suffering from obesity. Those kids will grow into adults, almost half of them will remain obese, about 42%.
- 193,000 children under age 20 are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes each year.
Those health risks translate into high medical expenses.
- Obesity costs the average man the average man $2,646 and the average woman $4,879 per year.
- Diabetes costs the average person nearly $10,000 per year.
According to Sara Peternell, an American Board Certified Nutritionist,in a recent interview said
“Eating poorly has consequences and good food habits start young. Kale is not the answer, exactly, and improving your child’s diet doesn’t have to be an overnight overhaul. In fact, it shouldn’t be”.
“If you’re trying to make a change, pick the low-hanging fruit first (literally, let them eat as much whole fruit as they want in place of processed foods or sweets).
The question to ask yourself is simple, What’s easiest for you to regain control of? Maybe it’s cooking homemade dinners or healthy breakfasts. Maybe it’s restocking the pantry to have less processed foods and more nutritious snacks.
Do whatever comes easiest.It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.” She said.
“Once you get past that first step, build on it with a second, then a third, and soon you’ll have reframed the way your family approaches food. But doing so requires an understanding of what foods pose the biggest risks to children.
Sugar is ingrained in American culture. It’s not treated as a special indulgence to be eaten in moderation, but as a staple of everyday life.The average 12-year-old will consume more than 40 pounds of sugar each year of their life”.
“Adults give kids sugar in school lunches, after sports games, and in popsicles all summer.Sugar in our culture is extremely pervasive which at the same time is also addictive, possibly as addictive as coccaine.
That’s an issue because added sugar can cause many health problems, both in kids and adults. It’s the basis for childhood obesity, other things like dental cavities, malnutrition, fatigue, and digestive issues all have an origin in sugar consumption,”
“Raising a healthy kid doesn’t mean cutting sugar out of their diet altogether. That would cause the mother of all tantrums, and it certainly wouldn’t be a one-time thing.
However, parents do need to reel back sugar intake. Instead of giving children a sugar-loaded granola bar when they get home from school, go for fresh fruit. Instead of letting them eat a huge pile of sweets at each holiday, encourage them to choose their favourite now and save the others for another day.
Let them know why you’re doing it; it’s not healthy to eat all that sugar in one day. And don’t be afraid to throw away Halloween candy that’s pure sugar, like Fun Dip” She said.
“For kids that mostly eat home-cooked meals, Peternell doesn’t worry too much about salt. A little salt on some steamed broccoli or on a grass-fed burger does not concern me at all, It’s salt that’s hidden in processed foods and takeout that is the real issue.
That throws the body’s electrolyte balance off, and other foods that are consumed healthfully have to work hard to counterbalance the effects of too much sodium from the processed food,” Peternell said.
In general, it’s best to stay away from processed foods as much as possible.
“Things that come in packages and that have long shelf life usually contain a trifecta of poor ingredients. That would be refined sugar, refined flours, and refined oils,If you think about something that’s sitting on the shelf, like a Twinkie, it’s all three of those combined”.
“My advice to parents is to aim for one or two fresh, home-cooked meals with unprocessed ingredients each day. Processed food or Packaged foods should only be used on occasional basis, when we need to fill the gaps”.
Peternell recommends going somewhere that you have more control over the ingredients, like a place that makes salad bowls, especially in a situation that there is not enough time to cook and there is need to order fast food.
That way you can choose to load up on veggies and limit ingredients like mayo. Parents are to aim for one or two fresh, home-cooked meals with unprocessed ingredients each day.
“Parents have a lot of control over what their kids are eating. Society would like us to believe otherwise. Commercials and fancy product packages are marketing directly to kids”.
Another nutritionist Coach, Jessica Cording, MS,RN,CDN, a registered dietician in New York City, advised parents not to give up,
“Behaviourally, when they’re so young, their taste buds, their flavour perception [and] their relationships with food, it’s all just beginning,” she said. “When you’re conditioning them right out of the gate to crave really sweet food, that’s setting them up for problems down the line.” She said.
In conclusion, as you rid your kids’ diets of sugar, salt and fat, you will notice how everyone’s thinking and ability to learn will increase. You will also see a difference in everyone’s moods, emotions, energy, and general outlook on life.
Feel free to let us know how you curb sugar, salts and fat intake in your household? Any great ideas that work for you?Lets us know in the comment session below.