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HomeHealthKidsThe bitter facts about sugar

The bitter facts about sugar

Sugar hiding in some favorite foods

Six teaspoons of added sugar equals about 100 calories or 25 grams. To put this in perspective, here is the sugar content in some kid-favorite foods:

  • 1 tablespoon of Heinz ketchup – 4 grams
  • 2 tablespoons of Kraft honey mustard dressing – 7 grams
  • Yoplait strawberry banana Go-Gurt – 8 grams
  • 1 Krispy Kreme glazed donut – 10 grams
  • 3 Kellogg’s buttermilk Eggo Pancakes – 12 grams
  • 1 tablespoon of Smucker’s strawberry jam – 12 grams
  • 12-ounce bottle of orange Gatorade – 21 grams
  • McDonalds vanilla soft serve in a cone – 25 grams

Sugar WWhat about the fake stuff?

Parents may be tempted to allow their children to have artificial sweeteners, but there is little known about the effect of these sweeteners on kids. Early research is far from promising.

“Some researchers call it a massive, uncontrolled public health experiment,” Padder says. “There is evidence in animal studies that artificial sweeteners may alter our gut microbe and lead to glucose intolerance.”

Glucose intolerance puts children at risk for diabetes.

There is also evidence that diet drinks containing artificial sweeteners are often consumed in the absence of other foods, Padder says. This can interfere with systems that regulate hunger and feeling full, and can lead to weight gain.

“Until we learn more what these ‘foreign’ sugars do to our bodies, it probably is safer to stay away from them,” Padder says.

Legislative actions to reduce sugar, increase healthy choices

Lawmakers are considering or have passed several measures to increase access to healthier choices, including:

  • The Maryland Healthy Vending Act would make healthy food and drink options more available in vending machines on state properties like parks, recreation centers and office buildings. The bill, backed by Sugar Free Kids Maryland, is expected to go before the General Assembly in early 2017, says Shawn McIntosh, executive director of Sugar Free Kids Maryland, a statewide coalition to combat Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay in children. The act failed in 2016 after the Senate Finance Committee voted to kill the measure.
  • The Prince George’s County Council introduced a similar bill in September that would limit sales of any snack with more than 200 calories or a high fat, calorie or sugar content in vending machines on county, municipal and park properties. Vending machines would also be required to include bottled water and show nutritional information for every product.
  • A 2015 Howard County law requires 75 percent of vending machine options in county-owned properties to meet caloric, fat and sugar guidelines.

Sugar by any other name

According to SugarScience, a website developed by health scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, there are more than 60 different names for sugar, making it hard to find on ingredient labels. That will soon change. In May, the White House and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced companies will be required to show “added sugar” on food labels by 2018. In the meantime, if you’re monitoring your family’s sugar intake, watch for these names:

anhydrous dextrose
brown sugar
confectioner’s powdered sugar
corn syrup
corn syrup solids
high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
invert sugar
malt syrup
maple syrup
nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

By Allison Eatough

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