Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Sugar, Kids, and Disease

"We don't need sugar to live and we don't need it as a society."  
      --Mehmet Oz, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon and host of                                        "The Dr. Oz Show"

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March is National Nutrition Month.  How much sugar are your kids eating and drinking every day?  

One 8 ounce glass of apple juice contains as much sugar (28 grams) as a glass of Coca Cola.  Kids do not need dozens of grams of sugar every day, but that is exactly what both of these drinks contain.  

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Did you know...Food manufacturers pay grocery stores for product placement so unhealthy products are placed at your children's eye level.  Food manufacturers market unhealthy, sugar-filled foods to your kids in TV advertisements and in sponsorships of educational material used in public schools and afterschool programs such as Boys and Girls Clubs that kids are exposed to every day (such as Coca Cola).

The other day I was talking with the cashier while checking out of a store with provisions for an upcoming Growing Healthy Kids program.  The cashier, a young man in his early twenties, commented that everything I was purchasing was in the “healthy and organic” category.  I told him about Growing Healthy Kids and our mission to prevent and reverse childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases.  He shared that he had gained a lot of weight in high school because he ate lots of junk food and he decided he needed to make a change.  I asked him what he did and can you guess what he said?  He started eating less foods high in sugar, including soda.  As I completed my purchase, I complimented the young man on his success and told him his new habits will last him his lifetime, putting him on the path to health instead of disease.    

"Children are developing eating habits and taste preferences that will last a lifetime," according to Rachel K. Johnson, a professor of nutrition and pediatrics at the University of Vermont in Burlington.  "The sooner families begin to limit the amount of added sugars in their diets, the better."  

Do your kids have habits that will last them a lifetime of good health?  Eating too much sugar on a daily basis is a sure path to diseases and conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Processed  foods such as Pop Tarts, Honey Buns, cookies, crackers, breakfast cereals (especially those that have the word “crunch” or “sugar” in their names), and granola bars contain more sugar in a serving that kids should have in a day.  Read food labels to see what a serving size is and how many grams of sugar are in a serving.   If there are more than 10 grams of sugar in one serving, look for something else (especially if you are eating more than one serving).  Look for ingredients that end in “-ose” because that is how you can identify hidden sugars.  Watch out for added sugars such as "high fructose corn syrup", "dextrose," and "fructose". 

Kids 2-18 years of age should have no more than 25 grams of added sugars a day (about 6 teaspoons).  

Eat real food,  Broccoli.  Almonds.  Zucchini.  Strawberries.  Spinach.  Quinoa. Blueberries. Walnuts.  Buy the best ingredients you can afford.   Cut back or eliminate added sugars.  Kids are sweet enough just the way they are!

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With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.