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.
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.
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.
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).