One third of American children are obese, and it’s mostly because for kids, sugar is everywhere. In a recent report from the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics found that and average of 16% of children’s total calories consumed are from added sugar in processed foods. The statistic for boys is slightly higher than girls. To get an idea, Dr. Cynthia L. Ogden, author of the study, says the average 12 to 19 year old boy consumes the equivalent of three regular sodas a day. Soda is the number one culprit, too. And average of 40% of kids’ sugar consumption comes from soft drinks.
When children and teenagers consume this much sugar, children are at in increased risk for conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cholesterol problems, and heart disease as adolescents. Although the average of sugar consumption has gone down, it is still more than any doctor or dietitian would recommend. Some doctors are urging the government to regulate the level of sugar in processed foods. They make the argument that it produces a toxic effect and has potential for abuse just like any other drug. Others are trying to educated parents to avoid sugary processed foods.
As a parent, it’s important to do an inventory of what you are buying for your kids. Sugar can lurk in simple things like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, hiding unacceptable levels in the jelly, the peanut butter, and the bread. It’s not always easy to spot the culprits. The CDC has handy guides that can help parents plan better meals and shop for more healthy alternatives.