How will reducing the overall amount of sugar consumed by children today affect the health of their future?

Sugar can be found in so many foods that may be tempting to kids (cookies, ice cream, candy, sugar-sweetened cereal, fruit punch, etc.) so it is important that parents help their kids make healthy food choices. Reducing the amount of sugar that children consume will help them in SO many ways. Kids who eat sugary treats and drink sugar-filled beverages are more prone to tooth decay. It is recommended that parents take an active interest in their kids’ dental health. They urge parents to place only water in sippy cups (no juice or sugary beverages). It is recommended that kids avoid drinking sugar filled sodas as well. Acidity from sweetened drinks can erode tooth enamel and their high sugar content can cause dental cavities. They suggest that parents really monitor and reduce the amount of sugary foods and beverages that kids consume and it is recommended that kids brush their teeth regularly.

Children that eat a lot of sugar are also at increased risk for other more frightening health disparities. Consumption of excess sugar often leads to childhood obesity. Kids consume empty calories and if the child is not active the calories can add up and lead to weight gain. This excess sugar consumption and then weight gain puts the child at risk for type 2 diabetes. This is a very scary diagnosis. People with type 2 diabetes may eventually have kidney failure, loss of eyesight, loss of limbs, and it may increase risk of an early death. Also, overweight children and adolescents often become overweight adults. Obesity in adulthood is linked with a higher incidence of cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Dietitians recommend that parents take an active role in helping to shape their child’s diet. Limit the amount of sugary treats that is kept around the house and instead offer healthy snacks instead. Choose whole fruits and cut up veggies for snacks. Encourage your kids to snack on whole grain crackers with peanut butter, low fat string cheese, hummus, nuts, hard boiled eggs and high fiber granola bars (homemade are the best). Limiting sugar consumption can definitely help your child to be at an adequate weight and live a long, healthy life!

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