How much sugar is excess?

We all know what sugar is but do we know that it is the most popular sweetener in the world which was invented in India? Sadly due to it, India is deemed as the world's capital of diabetes. The diabetic population in the country is close to hitting the alarming mark of 69.9 million by 2025 and 80 million by 2030.

That is why it is important to start the practice of sticking to recommended dosages of this sweetener right from childhood. Isn’t it?

So let’s strengthen our understanding about sugar for kids a bit more.

How much sugar is ideally recommended for kids?

The Indian Council of Medical Research recommends not more than 5% - 7% of total energy coming from free sugar/added sugars for kids above 2 years (2). Following table depicts the recommended sugar for different age groups.

What happens if kids take high sugar as compared to the recommended amounts?

While sugar may go down oh-so-sweet, but what happens after is the problem. “The amount of added sugar kids consistently ingest leads to big blood sugar spikes over time and affect your child’s mood, activity and hyperactivity levels.

The most common conditions due to high intake of sugars are:

  • Weight gain
  • Dental Decay
  • Increased risk of Non communicable diseases
  • Displace consumption of other nutrient rich foods
  • Hypocalcemia
  • Insulin resistance, Pre- diabetes and Diabetes at a later stage

How to understand how much sugar does a product have – read Nutrition Label

In this fast paced world, with tons of food products available around us claiming it to be healthy and organic, it becomes so important to choose the right kind of product for our kids as well as for us. Isn’t it?

So, here’s a one-step solution to this problem especially when it comes to reading about the so called white poison (Sugar).

First of all, it’s imperative to look for the amount of sugars that has been added under the section of ‘total sugars or carbohydrates’ on nutrition fact table. This will help you compare amongst different products keeping in mind the recommendation based on the age group given above.

For example, a 3 year old child’s the daily recommendation states that the added sugars should not exceed 15 g per day whereas some very popular health drinks, breakfast cereal options offers 50-70% of this daily requirement with their recommended servings. Isn’t it eye opening?

Every product can have different types of sugar, some use sugar substitutes as well. But the thumb rule remains to check for the Total sugars per product serve, which can easily help you identify how much you are giving your child. TruVitals gummies uses fiber sourced from Chicory root as its base, instead of sugar. This is a prebiotic fiber which helps in improving gut health.

Which are the most common types of sugar present in food products?

In some food products and drinks, sugars are sourced from different sources such as cane sugar, honey, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate/purées, corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, glucose, crystalline sucrose, nectars (such as blossom), maple and agave syrups, dextrose, maltose, maltrodextrin, molasses and treacle. Knowing these sugar substitutes will help you understand what your product is made of and help you make an informed choice about the food products you buy.

How to reduce sugar intake?

Is your child already a sugar addict? You can still get them to control the intake by taking it slow. “Don’t go cold turkey. Instead, make small little changes.”

For a healthy, balanced diet cut down sugar in food and drinks by:

  • Reducing sugar in drinks
    • Instead of sugary and carbonated drinks go for water, fruits in water for sweetness, or sugar-free options.
    • Even unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies are sugary, so limit the amount you have to no more than 150 ml a day.
    • If you add sugar in hot drinks and to your breakfast cereal, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether.
  • Reducing sugar in food
    • Rather than spreading high-sugar jam, marmalade, syrup, chocolate spread or honey on your toast, try a lower-fat spread, reduced-sugar jam or fruit spread, sliced banana.
    • Check nutrition labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar or go for the reduced- or lower-sugar version.
    • Try reducing the sugar you use in your recipes.
    • Instead of high sugar breakfast cereals use alternatives like overnight soaked oats in low fat milk with fruits for sweetness

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Sugar itself is not harmful, but if taken in high quantities can result in concerns. Understanding how much sugar is needed is the first step towards taking in the right recommended dosage.