Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How Much Sugar Can Kids Consume- You'll be Shocked!

Sugar gets a bad rap, and for good reason.  It is killing our bodies and contributing to numerous diseases.  It's hard to avoid sugar in our diets, especially when it comes to kid-favorite foods. Cereals, fruit drinks, ice cream, breads, flavored yogurts, ketchup, canned soups...the list goes on and on, and they are all full of sugar.

Here are the shock-and-awe stats that will have you rethinking your next trip to the grocery store.

It is recommended that children limit “added” sugar to 12 grams per day.  I know! Sounds nearly impossible, right?  Well before you throw your hands up in frustration, let me also note that not all sugars are created equal.

Added sugars (those that we should limit to 12 grams/day) should be considered separate from natural sugars.  Added sugars contribute no nutritional value and increase our sugar intake beyond what is healthy for our bodies.

Naturally occurring sugar found in food products like skim milk or fruit contribute to a healthy balanced meal because these foods provide a variety of nutritional benefits.  

Perhaps this guide will help you even more.  Here are just a few foods that hit the "added" sugar list:

Foods to avoid or limit (they contain “added” sugar- 
and remember your limit is 12g/day)
1 cup Fruit Loops
12 grams of sugar
2 Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Pop Tarts
30 grams of sugar
1 Strawberry NutriGrain Bar
11 grams of sugar
McDonald’s fruit & maple Oatmeal with brown sugar
32 grams of sugar
Turkey & Cheese Lunchable with Capri Sun and Reeses Peanut Butter Cup
28 grams of sugar

Now you can see why I waited so long to tackle this subject.  Added Sugar thrives in kid-favorite food  (and we haven’t even approached drinks yet).  What's a mom to do when everything we see on the grocery shelves is jam packed with sugar?  Here is a list of foods that are fine to eat because they contain natural sugars.  

Foods with natural sugars (ok to eat)
100% whole grain bread is good.  
Bread needs sugar in order to rise, so even the "sugar-free" breads include a sugar substitute.   One of the better brands is Nature's Own 100% whole wheat.  100% whole grain is also good.  Buy whole grain/wheat with 2g of sugar or less (anything more counts in the added sugar total)

Milk (no flavor added)
Plain Yogurt
Whole grain products.
Whole oats, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain couscous- any whole grain product sold uncooked with no sauce or flavoring.

Fruits & Vegetables
In their natural form.  Frozen fruits and vegetables (with no sauce) are ok. Steer clear of anything canned.

So keep this guide in mind during your next trip to the grocery store.  And don't worry, we're not done talking about sugar.  There are still a lot of unanswered questions like- how does juice factor into all of this, can I successfully limit our diets to 12 grams sugar/day, and is there such a thing as too much fruit? 

Lots of great info to come.  See you back again next week.  


  1. It's scary when you start to look at food labels and actually see how much sugar is added to just about everything! Just confirms that the key is to stay with natural foods and stay away from all that processed stuff!

  2. I went on a personal campaign to totally eliminate artificial and processed sugars. Now I use exclusively organic cane sugar or turbinado sugar. I also use agave instead of honey or any other liquid sweetener. Works for me. Try it, you might like it. :)

  3. Awesome insight Mandy!!! It's just unreal how much garbage is out there especially for kids. MY thing is why are these companies still in business when they provide such harmful products at such a critical age. In the mean time I think it's the parents responsibility to get their kids used to eating right at an early age. It's all about education and sitting kids down. I took one of my nephews and read him the contents to one of his cereal and asked him what yellow #5 was. Let's just say he doesn't like to eat that cereal anymore! Can't wait to see your next post. Thanks.


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