Dec 01 2011
The sugar debate can never end! There seem to be some confusions or misunderstanding. I have some friends said to me that, “I am confused over this sugar issues, aiyah no big deal one lah, children are still growing up, they need a lot of energy, these added sugars is sup-sup-sui to them, they can burn up easily not like us mah!”
This thought needs to be addressed.
Earlier, I managed to get some material from a talk given by some specialists on this added sugar topic. Pei Wei, Silversword and my sister, all are waiting for me to write about this and explain to them in greater detail here. I owe them this post, as well as some other friends/readers here.
Yes, children need plenty of carbohydrate to provide energy. Of total energy children at the growing up stage need, WHO has recommended that 55-75% of total calories comes from carbohydrate (other forms are fat and protein). But added sugars alone should be kept below 10%, which is equivalent to 7 teaspoons only PER DAY.
When WHO recommended that much of carbohydrate for children’s daily intake, it refers to the complex form of carbohydrates.
In complex carbohydrates, we have fruits, grains, etc. These types of carbohydrates always come with other nutrients. Take banana as example. It is a good source of carbohydrate, and it is also full of fiber, vitamins (carotene, thiamin, vit C, vit B6) as well as many types of minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, etc). [BTW, banana is Isabel’s most favorite fruit; she can eat 2-3 large bananas in one sitting… yummy!]
Yes, added sugars is also a form of carbohydrate, but there is a term for this kind → EMPTY Carbohydrate. Why? It is because apart from carbohydrates, it provides nothing else. It doesn’t give you any minerals, no vitamins, no fiber, no protein, etc.
What your children need, is a balanced diet. So when taking in carbohydrate, your children need other things like protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, fat, etc. When taking in a complex carbohydrate, you get a lot of other benefits. However, when sugars are added to the food (in this case, growing up milk), it hinders the intake of sufficient protein and other nutrients. Certainly, when there are excessive added sugars, something else would be compromised/reduced, and that is usually the protein. So for your children to take in the same amount of protein they will need to consume more milk that has high added sugars. The end result is, too much of added sugars is taken.
So, what’s the big deal with this added sugars… To be precise, added sugars is not the issue, but the excessive added sugars is the problem here. The sugars are converted to energy (that’s why some hyper-active children are advised not to be given any sweet food). The unused/balance energy is stored in our body. THAT is the problem – obesity. Do you realize that there are so many obese children nowadays? Do you like your children to be obese? Think about all the health issues that follow obesity… Not going to repeat myself here.
As for some of you who have opted for fresh milk as resolution in this sugar confusion, I urge you to rethink about this as well.
Growing up children need a different composition of nutrients in their milk. Their need is different from ours. If you remember an article I wrote before about breast milk content? Even babies at different week, different month of age, they need different composition of milk (our body will adjust accordingly, how amazing!). So, what makes us think that children 3-6 years old are the same as us? Do we really think they need the same nutrients like us? No, of course. That’s why growing up milk is designed for them.
So, as informed mothers, instead of switching to a completely different stuff for children, we should learn more about growing up milk, and make the right choice by reading more.
As I have written earlier here, a standard milk without any added sugars, should have 11-12g carbohydrate per serve (solely from lactose, i.e. milk sugar naturally presented in cow’s milk). I urge that when you do your grocery shopping next time, go to the aisle of growing-up milk, and take a look at the labels of all brands.
How to check milk label for sugar? You just need to check out two things – the ingredients and the nutrition labels.
At the ingredients list, check out these terms: sugar, glucose, fructose, maltose, corn syrup solids, sucrose syrup solids, sucrose, or maltodextrin. These are added sugars. Sometimes they don’t list out the sugars, but instead group them into carbohydrate. (It is allowed in Malaysia, to group sugars into carbohydrate, but fiber is listed separately).
Next, move on to the nutritional facts, look for Carbohydrate content. If you see anything above 11-12g per serving, it comes from added sugars. This should be able to help you find a growing up milk with minimal or no added sugars.
So, mothers out there, let’s start reading labels from now on, and be an informed consumer, especially in choosing the right milk for our children!!
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