HOW MUCH SU­GAR IN KIDS SNACKS?

There’s no need to su­gar-coat your child’s lunch box! HFG di­eti­tian Melissa Meier shows you how to spot the sweet stuff in pack­aged chil­dren’s snacks.

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Health­ier choices for the lunch box

Thir­teen per cent of kids’ daily en­ergy in­take on av­er­age comes from added su­gar — yet less than 5 per cent (or 6 tea­spoons) is the rec­om­mended limit. Here’s how kids can snack smarter.

Nat­u­ral vs added su­gar

Su­gar is clas­si­fied as ei­ther ‘nat­u­ral’ or ‘added’. Nat­u­ral su­gar is most com­monly found in fruit (fruc­tose), and dairy foods (lac­tose) such as plain yo­ghurt and milk. We don’t need to worry about these types of sug­ars, be­cause the foods they come in are loaded with nu­tri­ents like gut-friendly fi­bre and cal­cium for strong bones. Keep in mind that su­gar in fruit juices and dried fruit is highly con­cen­trated, so although it’s nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring, it’s best to keep these foods to a min­i­mum.

Added su­gar, on the other hand, is the su­gar that’s added to foods like soft drink, bis­cuits and lol­lies. And although honey, maple syrup and rice malt syrup have won a ‘health halo’, they’re con­sid­ered added su­gar, too. This type of su­gar is not ideal — sug­ary foods tend to be low in nu­tri­ents, yet high in kilo­joules.

Sweet talk

There are two main rea­sons to try and min­imise your child’s in­take of added su­gar:

Weight man­age­ment Re­search has demon­strated that chil­dren who con­sume a lot of su­gar — par­tic­u­larly from su­gar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages — are more likely to be over­weight or obese than those who don’t.

Tooth de­cay

All of that su­gar is bad for your chil­dren’s teeth. If they con­sume more than 10 per cent of their kilo­joules from added su­gar, there’s a strong link to in­creased rates of den­tal cav­i­ties.

Read be­tween the lines …

Read­ing food la­bels is the best way to dodge a su­gar rush. Your aim is less than 15g of su­gar per 100g (un­less the su­gar comes nat­u­rally from fruit or dairy). You can tell if su­gar has been added by check­ing the in­gre­di­ents list for words that in­di­cate su­gar (see ‘Su­gar Sleuth!’ at right).

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