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Sugar and Your Child's Health: What's the Right Balance?

What child can resist eating Grandma’s homemade chocolate chip cookies? While one cookie may not be a problem, excess sugar in a child’s diet can be harmful.

Eating a diet high in simple sugars found in cookies, sodas and packaged treats can lead to a host of behavioral issues and learning problems, not to mention high blood sugar, childhood obesity and immune suppression.

Sugar Leads to Childhood Obesity

Sugar is different from starches, and no matter what the calories, sugar stimulates cravings. This means the more sugar your child eats, the more he or she craves. While it’s a fact that sugar promotes obesity, newer findings now link sugar to other health conditions, including:

  • Fatty liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Type 2 diabetes

Overweight children who eat added sugars are more likely to become insulin-resistant, a precursor for Type 2 diabetes. With diabetes, blood glucose levels rise quickly and may cause unexplained weight loss, extreme thirst, increased urination, mood swings and nonspecific malaise. Talk with your doctor if your child has high sugar symptoms or any other health concerns.

Recommended Sugar Intake for Healthy Children

To avoid added simple sugars in your child’s diet, try the following tips.

Serve nutritionally dense foods for meals and snacks, including:

  • Fruits
  • Lean meat, poultry and fish
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Limit sugar to no more than six teaspoons a day or less than 10 percent of daily calories for a child. This includes table sugar, fructose and honey. Read the package labels to watch for hidden sugars.

Allow one treat each day to help your child learn to self-regulate sugar in the diet.


Circulation: Added Sugars and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Children. March 7, 2017, Volume 135, Issue 10.

Medscape: AHA Says Cap Added Sugars for Kids at 6 Teaspoons a Day.

Emedicine: Pediatric Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.

Author: Dr. Ryland Scott | Filed under: Nutrition | Tags: Blood sugar kids, Childhood obesity, Daily sugar intake, Floyd Center for Bariatric Services

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