Hidden Sugar in Your Child’s Diet

Chances are you know that soda and other sugar-filled drinks are bad for your child’s health. But, the food choices you serve can also contribute significantly to the amount of sugar in your child’s diet. Here as some foods that may be sneaking surprising sugar amounts into your child’s diet:

  • Low-fat peanut butter. You make think you’re making a healthier choice by selecting low-fat peanut butter, but manufacturers take out the fat and add sugar to give it the texture and taste of regular peanut butter. The fat that is naturally occurring in peanut butter is healthy, so go with the regular stuff. Compare labels because the sugar content varies by brand. Select one low in sugar.
  • Breakfast cereals. Breakfast cereals are the single greatest source of added sugars in the diets of children under the age of eight. Choose a cereal with five grams of sugar or less per serving.
  • Packaged fruit. You may be happy your child is eating fruit, but in reality you may be serving up a frightening amount of sugar. Stay away from cups that pack the fruit in syrup and look for ones that are packed in water.
  • Yogurt. An 8-ounce serving of low-fat fruit-flavored and sweetened yogurt can contain as much as 47 grams of sugar (equal to almost 12 teaspoons). Buy plain or sugar-free brands and add your own sweetness by blending in frozen berries or other fruits.

Did you know? The average 1- to 3-year-old consumes about 12 teaspoons of sugar each day, and the average 4- to 8-year-old takes in 21 teaspoons. The actual limit of sugar for children is 3 to 4 teaspoons during the preschool and early elementary years, and between 5 and 8 teaspoons during the tween and teen years. When reading labels remember that a teaspoon of sugar has 4 grams. For example, a food item containing 12 grams of sugar has 3 teaspoons of sugar.

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