News article

Children Feast On Sugar

Posted:  Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The good news is kids are consuming less sugar than they were in year 2000 but are still getting more sugar. Children in a new European survey consume almost 100 grams of sugar each day. That corresponds to 33 sugar cubes, or more than one liter of soft drink, a day. But sugar can also come from healthier foods such as fruit and milk. Sugar is used as an ingredient in processed foods, such as breads, cakes, soft drinks, jams and ice cream, and sugar eaten separately or added to foods at the table. Examples include white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup and honey.

"Consumption of sugared foods such as candy and soda is high among European children," says Swedish researcher Christel Larsson, professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Gothenburg.

Added sugar means empty calories and no nutrients, which is what put kids at risky of obesity and health issues which show up in the adolescence years.

Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Spain, Italy and Cyprus participated in the study, which was part of the European Idefics project. More than 9,000 children between 2 and 9 years were examined in 2007 and 2008.

Consumption was highest in Germany, where the figure was 30 per cent. In Sweden, it was 22 per cent.

Larsson refers to figures from Sweden, where the amount of added sugar increased from the 1980s to 2003. In 2003, Swedish eight year olds got at least 12 per cent of their energy intake from sucrose, which is a part of added sugar. These are the most recent figures available.

Children in Europe are eating a lot of sugar throughout the week, but the sugar party reaches its peak during the weekends.

Yet total energy intake does not rise on weekends, the European survey shows.

Why is sugar bad for you? If you do an internet search, there will such an avalanche of articles that you might just want to run away.

In a nutshell: sugar weakens the immune system, it can cause hypoglycaemia, acidity in the body which can cause arthritis and joint pain, mood swings, decline in tissue elasticity and function.

She is concerned about imbalance in the diet, regardless of the source of the sugar-be it candy or fruit juice.

"The greatest health risk is that children at an early age become accustomed to a high intake of sweet foodstuffs that are high in energy but contain little nutrition. This can lead to negative consequences for dental health and an increased risk of obesity," says Larsson.

"In the short term, it is a problem if children consume sugar instead of foodstuffs with the vitamins and minerals they need. Children are more vulnerable to imbalanced diet because they are growing," says Kristiansen, who conducts research on diet among children.

"The children establish habits. If you consume a lot of sugar, you can develop a preference for sweet tastes. This may persist in adulthood."