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by Katie Hodgkins

Kids & Sugar: Important Information For Parents

One of the most contentious subjects amongst parents is sugar & sweet treats!

From observing discussions in our online community, there tends to be three schools of thought amongst mummies and daddies when it comes to allowing kids access to high sugar/starch foods…

  • Heavily restricted and healthy foods only
  • Middle-ground parents who allow the odd treat with the focus on healthy foods (a majority)
  • Parents who allow free reign and give their child high sugar foods multiple times a day

The third school of thought, the least concerned group of parents when it comes to sugar, often allow free reign access to these foods simply because they don’t understand the specific risks of consuming too much sugar.

It’s important to bear in mind that your child may seem as healthy as a horse and have fantastic teeth, but the risks of sugar go beyond dental health and we don’t have x-ray goggles to see inside their bodies, nor can we predict their future health.

Childhood builds an important foundation when it comes to sensible eating habits and future risk of conditions such as diabetes; we don’t want to sound preachy in any way, but it’s such an important topic for all of us. The more aware we are, the better!

We had a chat with Public Health England about this, as we wanted some professional insight into why it’s important to watch how much sugar our children consume…

Orla Hugueniot, PHE’s Head of Marketing for Starting Well, told us: “We’re all having too much sugar and too much of it is bad for our children’s health, which can lead to weight gain. We know that overweight or obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, increasing their risk of serious illnesses. Consuming too much sugar can also cause tooth decay.

Our mouths contain bacteria that form plaque, and when we have sugary food and drinks, the bacteria in the plaque turns sugar into acid causing cavities in the teeth. Around 105 children a day have their teeth removed in hospital and many more have tooth decay! That’s why it’s important to help families give their babies and children the best start in life. Search Start4Life weaning for helpful advice and information on when and how to start introducing solid food to your baby, right through to feeding fussy eaters!”

It’s also important to consider that…

  • Overweight or obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, increasing their risk of serious illnesses such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
  • Severe obesity among ten-to-eleven-year olds has now reached an all-time high, and by their tenth birthday, children have already exceeded the maximum recommended sugar intake for an 18-year-old – that’s around 2,800 excess sugar cubes a year.
  • Around 105 children a day have their teeth removed in hospital, and at least a quarter of five-year olds in England have some tooth decay. Reducing children’s consumption of sugary foods and drinks, alongside brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, helps protect their teeth and reduces their risk of developing painful tooth decay.
  • As well as searching for Start4Life, parents and carers looking for tips can download the Change4Life Food Scanner app, which shows the amount of sugar, salt and fat in lots of everyday products; look out for a ‘Good Choice’ badge on lots of healthier, lower sugar products when doing the shopping; and visit the Change4Life website for lots more healthy recipe ideas.

Remember; even if your child isn’t currently overweight, if they’re eating a lot of sugary food in childhood, it still increases their future health risks.

You can find advice on making healthier food swaps at Change4Life here.

Love from Katie & Team BBY. Xx

Katie Hodgkins Image
I'm Katie, and I'm a mama, wife, and freelance content creator for Bump, Baby & You. I also help to run our thriving online community over in our Facebook support group, as well as volunteering for my local branch of the National Childbirth Trust. I'm a busy bee and enjoy keeping active, cooking, writing, and fun days out with my little family. My special topics of interest are... autism (as me and my son are both autistic), science, all things parenting and pregnancy related, and The Handmaids Tale!
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