The Sugar Conversation

I understand if you are thinking ‘Not another sugar article’ and are perhaps a bit tired of hearing about it. But we need to keep having the conversation going because sadly it’s still an issue that’s impacting the health of many Australians and many people around the world, particularly children.

Taking control of sugar intake for your kids contributes to setting them up for a life of better choices and better health in the future.

The article Drop the Sugar Coating (By Professor Rob Moodie, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, and Professor Peter Brukner, La Trobe University) has the following advice.

“There are many causes of our deteriorating health, but there is one major factor associated with all these conditions – too much added sugar. 

By “added sugar” we mean sugar added to food and drinks such as soft drinks, breakfast cereals and processed foods. It does not include sugars found naturally in fruit and dairy products. Simply put, it is sugar we don’t need, and sugar that will potentially harm us and our children. 

WHO recommends no more than 10 percent of our daily calories should come from added sugar and suggests that reducing this to 5 per cent is even more beneficial. That 5 per cent equates to about 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. The American Heart Association (AHA) has recently recommended a maximum daily added sugar intake of 9 teaspoons of sugar for men and 6 teaspoons for females and teenagers. They suggest no added sugar at all for infants under 2 years.”

Worryingly, the average Australian consumes somewhere around 16 teaspoons of added sugar every day, and of even more concern is Australian teenagers have more than 20 teaspoons a day!

So what can we do? The majority of us are well aware of the obvious products that we should avoid or moderate to reduce our sugar intake – soft drinks, lollies, biscuits etc. But here’s the tricky part, do we really know where the hidden sugars are? Products that may seem a healthy option can still have high levels of added sugar.

To assist parents in making an informed decision when buying food for their families Kids Health Australia displays on their website the following list of other names for sugar.

So if you see any of these near the beginning of the ingredients list, or with a high percentage number next to it, be aware.  Did you know that the ingredients list is listed in the order from biggest component to smallest?  Look for products that list sugar or a version of, lower down the list. Also use the 100g serving size in the nutritional profile as a guide for a point of comparison between products.

Common foods that kids love to consume that have lots of hidden sugars are flavoured yogurts, and even some natural yoghurts, breakfast cereals including muesli (this is a real trap) and flavoured sachets of quick oats. These are seemingly healthy foods but choosing the right brand is really important.

It’s not necessarily easy, but the less you buy sugary products, the easier it is to avoid them.  If you don’t have a pack of Tim Tams in the cupboard, you can’t eat them!  I know from experience that if you don’t offer your children overly sweet food, they develop palates that shy away from sugary foods.

Emily Dupuche

I am a Melbourne mum of 3 who is passionate about feeding children good food, to power them through a day of growing, playing and learning. I believe that we as parents have a duty to our children, to educate them around nutrition and ensure they have a positive relationship with food.

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