There is a lot of talk about reducing sugar consumption these days, and for good reason.
Increased sugar intake has been linked to a host of health problems including diabetes, heart disease, headaches, anxiety, depression, acne, and more. As the graphic below shows, children are especially at risk given that the average American child ingests 32 teaspoons of sugar each day. This is over 22 grams more than the recommended daily sugar intake!
One of the problems with reducing sugar consumption is that sugar is highly addictive. This site shows images of the human brain on substances such as cocaine, tobacco, and sugar. You can see the impact on the brain’s reward centers is the same, making sugar a tough habit to kick.
While many children and families may find it difficult to give up on sugar completely, here are some simple steps everyone can take to reduce overall sugar intake:
- Reduce consumption of sugary drinks such as soda and juices with added sugars, and drink more water or beverages without sugar added.
- Avoid sending foods like cookies, pudding, and candy bars to school for lunch or snacks. Instead, send healthier options such as fruits and vegetables, items made with whole wheat, nuts, raisins, yogurt without added sugars, etc.
- Ask your child’s school to swap out vending machine items such as soda and candy for healthier options.
- Leave the sugary foods and beverages on the shelves at the store — Don’t bring them into your home. The less available these items are, the less we consume them.
- Teach children about the health risks associated with increased sugar intake, and how they can make better choices for their brains and bodies. Increased awareness tends to lead to better food choices overall.
[A word of caution about artificial sweeteners: While these are often marketed as a “safer” alternative to sugar, these chemical sweeteners are NOT healthy! Swapping added sugar for artificial sweeteners is likely to cause just as many problems.]
If you want to see some shocking statistics about sugar intake for children and adults, check out the infographic by OnlineNursingPrograms.com below: