For years, Mary Poppins has been telling children that “just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. However, if our kids ate less sugar in their diets, there is a good chance they wouldn’t need that medicine in the first place!
For years, sugar has been touted as a “natural” product. Of course, this helps put us in the mindset that anything natural can’t hurt us. But the truth is, consuming too much sugar can lead to a whole plethora of issues to our overall health. This is why we should try to limit our own sugar intake, and we should certainly be keeping a close eye on how much sugar our children consume.
Sugar is in practically everything we eat. Although some sources do occur naturally, like the sugars found in milk products and potatoes or fruit, it’s still good practice to limit our child’s sugar intake and seek out the hidden sugars in their diet.
Sugar Consumption is Big Business
Sugar is big business and big business means big money. The website www.sugar.org advocates bringing the family together by baking with sugar. They say, “Family means everything and baking is an easy way to show just how much you care.”
It’s kind of like the scenario where your grandmother cooks all kinds of delicious foods for you and you “have” to eat them to show your love and appreciation for her.
Although, truth be told, if you truly cared for each other, you’d find ways to eradicate sugar from your baking and your lives.
Of course, the companies who are benefiting from sales of sugar want us to keep consuming it and who loves sugar ladened treats more than our kids? But there are many reasons why you should restrict your children’s sugar intake – let’s take a look.
#1 – Sugar Hurts Your Heart
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the world’s number one killer, with more than 17.5 millions deaths worldwide each year. (source)
As time goes on, more and more research is conducted between the foods we eat and the effects that has on our health. For decades, saturated fat was considered the number one culprit when it came to heart disease, however, more recently, long forgotten documents were found by researchers at the University of California that showed the dietary recommendations for fats and sugars were actually shaped by the big bosses of the sugar industry (source).
Amazingly, many of these recommendations are still considered correct today, despite evidence showing that the big players in the sugar industry actually paid researchers back in the 70s to play down the role of sugar and its association with chronic heart disease.
#2 – Obesity Related Diseases are on the Rise
According to research by the American Diabetes Association, figures for obesity related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia are continuing to rise.
Obesity is a major health epidemic in the US with an estimated $147 Billion dollars worth of annual US healthcare costs going to obesity related health problems (source).
Currently, around 33% of the entire US population is considered obese (source). Excess sugar consumption has been shown to play a significant role in obesity and subsequently, the chronic diseases for which it is a precursor. (source)
#3 – Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
I think it is fair to assume that the majority of loving parents would never consider giving their child alcohol. In fact, the idea of sitting your five year old down with a nice bottle of red and allowing them to get inebriated is well, preposterous!
However, what most parents don’t realize is that excess sugar consumption in children can be just as damaging to the liver as the effects of alcohol. Although with alcohol, it affects the brain which shows us when we’ve had too much by exhibiting signs of being “drunk” – but actually when it comes to sugar, it can be just as detrimental to the liver.
Because our liver can only handle so much fructose at one time, if we consume too much, the excess is stored as fat in the liver. When we overload our liver with fructose time and time again, we can be left with a fat filled liver, a significant precursor in non alcoholic fatty liver disease (source).
#4 – Sugar Really Does Rot Your Teeth
Being told “sugar will rot your teeth” as a child was not just your mother’s way of coaxing away those chocolate chip cookies. It’s actually a cold, hard fact.
Believe it or not, science tells us that sugar actually provides energy for the bad bacteria in your mouth, making it very bad for your teeth (source) and gums.
#5 – Excess Sugar Consumption is Linked to Cancer
No one wants to hear the big C word, especially not when it comes to our children. Cancer is one of the biggest killers worldwide and probably the most brutal in the fact that it can affect anyone at anytime.
Cancer occurs when cells grow and multiply uncontrollably and can affect pretty much any part of the human body.
Insulin is a key hormone in the body and one of its functions is to regulate cell growth. However, overloading your body with sugar can lead to insulin resistance, meaning the cells become able to resist the effects of insulin.
This is why many scientists believe that too much sugar can cause cancer (source).
Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives