5 easy ways to reduce your child's sugar intake

5 easy ways to reduce your child's sugar intake

Experts suggest cutting our added sugar intake to 25g a day, but how much should your child really consume? Helen Foster investigates how much is too much and how to cut down your child’s sugar intake in their diet.

5 ways to cut your kids sugar intake

Kids and sugar

Chances are you’re already well aware that children and sugar don’t mix that well – it’s bad for their teeth, increases risk of weight gain and impacts on energy and mood – so limiting intake is always a good idea. While there are no recommended guidelines for babies, Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Sugar, says it’s recommended that tots aged two to three have less than 13g (three teaspoons) a day, while those aged four to six should have no more than 19g (five teaspoons). Here’s how to reduce their sugar consumption.

Check labels

Some baby foods – even the savoury ones – contain a high proportion of sugar from fruit purées, fruit juices or fruit concentrates that are added to sweeten the taste. Fortified milks can also contain added sugars. ‘Also watch out for dried fruit – some are soaked in fruit juice to soften them – and fruits wrapped in yogurt or chocolate are no better than sweets,’ says Katharine. Companies are trying to tackle this – recently one university advertised for a scientist to work on how to reduce sugar in baby foods but keep the taste and textures babies like – but until the industry starts making wholescale changes we must continue to read labels, compare sugar content and pick brands that have the lowest levels.

Think vegetables first

When you start weaning, offer your baby vegetable purées rather than fruit-filled ones. ‘Don’t worry about the funny faces they pull – it doesn’t mean they don’t like it, it’s just that it’s a new flavour and texture,’ says Paula Hallam, paediatric dietician and expert child nutritionist for Babease baby food.

Beware of fruit juices

We used to think they were a healthy option, but we now know otherwise. A recent study in the British Medicial Journal analysed sugar in juices, smoothies and juice drinks aimed at children, and found half of them contained at least 19g – the maximum tots should have each day. ‘Children should drink milk or water,’ says Katharine. If they do have juice now and then, it’s recommended that the serving is not more than 150ml.

Kids already have a sweet tooth?It's not too late

But, says Laura, when you start to change things, ‘Don’t try to make them go cold turkey; instead, you can dilute the taste by mixing sugary foods with a lower-sugar alternative so their taste buds adapt. If they’ve got used to Coco Pops for their breakfast, for example, start mixing this with a sugar-free puffed cereal, gradually changing the ratio to a greater amount of the sugar-free brand.’ You can try this tactic with other sweet foods and drinks as well.

Don't ban birthday cake

‘Let kids see sugar as a normal part of events such as parties, rather than making a big deal about it,’ Katharine says. ‘Once you start banning particular foods or linking them with treats or rewards, you develop associations that make those foods more tempting.’

Words by Helen Foster

RELATED ARTICLES

Related Articles

How to introduce spices into your baby's diet?
Recipes & Food
How to introduce spices into your baby's diet?
How to introduce spices into your baby's diet? There’s no reason why you can...
When’s the right time to get a pet for your family
Parenting
When’s the right time to get a pet for your family
When’s the right time to get a pet for your family Getting a new pet is a big...
What can you use to wean a baby with a cow's milk protein allergy?
Baby & Toddler Health
What can you use to wean a baby with a cow's milk protein allergy?
What can you use to wean a baby with a cow's milk protein allergy? Find out...
How can you help a frozen shoulder?
You and your body
How can you help a frozen shoulder?
How can you help a frozen shoulder? Frozen shoulder can be stiff and painful,...

email block

what-does-a-thyroid-scan-involveBaby & Toddler Health

What does a thyroid scan involve?

The simple heel prick test is a vital health check for new babies
pampers-reveals-new-nappy-with-magical-podsBaby & Toddler Health

Pampers reveals new nappy with Magical Pods

Win the chance to star in a Pampers ad
hydrolysed-baby-formula-doesnt-reduce-risk-of-allergiesBaby & Toddler Health

Hydrolysed baby formula doesn't reduce risk of allergies

This formula doesn’t reduce a child’s risk of eczema and allergies, according to new research
win-a-mam-electric-steriliser-and-express-warmer-worth-90Win

Win a MAM electric steriliser and express warmer worth £90

One lucky winner will receive a brand new MAM Electric steriliser and express warmer worth £90.
win-one-of-four-bundles-of-baby-sensory-toys-worth-860Win

Win one of four bundles of baby sensory toys worth £860!

We've giving away bundles of sensory development toys from the Early Learning Centre's Little Sense range to four lucky Gurgle...
win-a-holding-hands-3d-casting-kit-from-baby-casts-printsWin

Win a Holding Hands 3D Casting Kit from Baby Casts & Prints

Little ones grow up so fast that you'll want to make the memories made during those years last forever. We've...