Dangers of hidden sugar


The following information shows how vital it is that parents educate themselves regarding the hidden sugars present in the foods they may provide for their children.


For the first time ever the American Heart Association (AHA) is taking a stand on sugar intake. The AHA reviewed and graded the most recent scientific evidence for studies examining the cardiovascular health effects of added sugars on children. Here is what they concluded:

  1. Children ages 2-18 should have no more than 6 teaspoons (or under 25 grams) or 100 calories of added sugar a day to avoid the risk of adverse effects on cardiovascular health.
  2. And only one sugar-sweetened beverage, such as soda, fruit-flavored and sports drinks, sweetened teas and energy drinks per week.
  3. Children ages 0-2 should have zero added sugars including sugar-sweetened drinks.

In an ABC story1 referencing the AMH study, kids are consuming a whooping 90.5 grams of sugar per day.  That is over three to often four times the recommended amount by the AHA.2 (Watch the ABC news video here.)

You may be wondering how kids are possibly over consuming this much sugar? Well, added sugars are not the same as the natural sugars that are found in foods like fruit and diary and found in foods you may not even be aware of when loading up your grocery cart.   According to the AHA scientific statement: “added sugars are any sugars – including table fructose, sugar and even honey – either used in processing and preparing foods or beverages, added to foods at the table or eaten separately. Starting in July 2018, food manufacturers will be required to list the amount of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel making it much easier to follow the recommendations in this scientific statement”.

For example, in sugary cereals like Fruit Loops, there are about 12 grams of added sugar for a single serving. Most people consume twice to three times the listed serving size. By doing so, the sugar intake then climbs up toward 28 to 36 grams of sugar at one sitting, which is already over the total recommended daily intake of sugar. Here is a helpful link to show the amount of added sugars found in breakfast cereals.

Other examples of common foods with added sugars include ketchup, tomato sauce, orange juice, fruit yogurt, bread, granola bars, dried fruit and the obvious sugary beverages. So make sure to start checking those nutrition labels for the amount of sugars in each product the next time you hit the grocery store. You may be alarmed by how quickly the sugars add up and surpass the recommended less than 25 grams per day.

AHA recommends the best way to avoid added sugars is to limit foods with little nutritional value and to incorporate more nutrient dense foods like vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and lean meat.

There is still a long ways to go and lots of work to be done regarding the studies on sugar and nutrition. More research is urgently needed in order to provide the data required to make policy decisions. But the good news is that we are at least on our way…. hooray!

Helpful Links:

From sugarscience.org-Hidden sugars may have serious effects on children’s heart health- by Mary C. Wiley

Sugar Slash Tip:

Remove sugar (white and brown), syrup, and honey from the table. Only buy and store the smallest sizes for limited use in your kitchen. 

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