Children younger than 2 years should not have any sugar added to their food or drinks. Unfortunately, the market is flooded with milk products and fruit juices that are high in artificial sugar.
To promote healthy eating habits for your children, you need to understand a few basics about sugar and the appropriate amount of intake for Your Child.
Not all sugar is the same
There are many types of sugar – examples are sucrose, glucose, fructose, and lactose. Sugar is found naturally in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and grains. And there is no need to avoid sugars naturally found in whole foods, as these foods also contain healthy nutrients, fiber, and water.
However, when sugars, such as sucrose or fructose, are added to fruit juices or other processed foods, they do more harm than good to your child’s health and wellbeing.
Do children need sugar?
Proper nutrition is important for children to grow healthily. A well-balanced diet consisting of starch, carbohydrates, and sugars is needed to support rapid growth and physical activity in the early years.
Health experts, however, recommend that young children avoid consuming sucrose sugar because they are addictive and can interfere with children’s preference for healthy choices.
Effects of too much sugar
Added sugars are often found in milk, yogurts, and fruit juices. Consuming too much sucrose can lead to weight problems, hyperactivity, and an increased preference for sweetened products.
In the long run, too many sugary foods can cause severe problems such as:
- Tooth decay with improper oral care
- Risk of obesity, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart problems
- Behavioral problems such as frequent tantrums and persistent pestering
- Cravings for sweets
How to cut down child sugar intake
It may seem impossible to drop added sugar completely, but choosing healthier alternatives such as banana, honey, or brown sugar isn’t as difficult as it may seem.
Good alternatives to sweet drinks
There is usually a lot of unhealthy sugar in soft drinks, fruit juices, and baby milk. So it’s better to offer Your Child breastmilk and plain water. You can also offer diluted fruit juice (1 part juice to 10 parts water) served with meals. Serving it with a meal reduces the risk of tooth decay.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (26 August 2021)