It seems like sugar is everywhere. It’s packed in all of your kids’ favorite foods and hides in foods that don’t even taste sweet. It’s loaded in all your family’s favorite condiments and dressings. Health experts are always encouraging us to limit sugar intake, especially for our kids. That recommendation seems much easier said than done.
So, how much sugar should a 6-year-old have? And how important is it really to worry about how much sugar a child should have in a day? This guide will get to the bottom of everything you need to know about daily sugar intake for kids, and the dangers of eating too much.
Negative effects of excessive daily sugar intake for kids
It’s no secret that eating a lot of sugar leads to weight gain. That’s because sugar is made up of empty calories, meaning it adds a lot of calories but no nutrition. If your child’s diet has a lot of empty calories, there’s a good chance they are eating more calories than they need. Over time, that causes weight gain and eventually, obesity. Since most kids love sugar, it’s important for parents to pay attention to the recommended sugar intake for kids.
Many parents also dread the so-called “sugar high” that happens when kids eat a lot of sugar. There’s an ongoing debate on whether sweets make kids hyper and cause behavior and attention issues. However, scientific studies are inconclusive.
How much sugar should a child have in a day?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the recommended sugar intake for kids over the age of two is 25 grams of added sugar per day, or about 6 teaspoons. However, they also note that for kids and toddlers daily sugar intake tends to be more than that, with sugar making up 17% of what the average child eats daily.
If you’re worried about your kids’ daily sugar intake, the AAP recommends that toddlers under the age of 2 avoid added sugar in preschool meals altogether.
Not all sugar is created equal
Recommendations for how much sugar a child should have a day are based on added sugar. The term “added sugar” is confusing for many parents – rightfully so! Added sugar refers to any type of sugar (even natural sugars like honey and maple syrup) that are added to foods.
Meanwhile, there are naturally occurring sugars in fruit juices and fruit purees. Although they may have the “no sugar added” label, fruit juices and purees are processed, stripping them of fiber and other nutrients so the body absorbs their sugar more rapidly.
However, naturally occurring sugar in whole fruits and vegetables do not count as “added sugar” in terms of the recommended sugar intake for kids. Even though these sugars break down to glucose just like other sugars, fruits and vegetables have fiber that slow glucose absorption.
Parents can look for added sugars on a food’s nutrition or ingredient label. Ingredients that count as added sugar include:
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Ingredients that end with “-ose”
Smart swaps to help limit daily sugar intake for kids
So, what is the best way to limit daily sugar intake for kids? Start with simple swaps like:
- Encourage milk and water as your child’s main beverages, and sugary drinks like juice and soda.
- Swap purees and pastes for whole fruits that provide fiber and a healthy dose of vitamins.
- Instead of sweets like candy, cookies and cupcakes, encourage an apple with nut butter or a handful of berries as a sweet treat.
- Give sugary cereals a break, swapping them for other family breakfast ideas like toast with nut butter or scrambled eggs at breakfast.
A satisfying meal can also help your kids avoid cravings for sweets and ensure they stay at or below the recommended sugar intake for kids. A filling, delicious dinner like Yumble’s Mac and Trees or Chicken Nuggets will keep your kids’ bellies full. They’ll be so happy as they enjoy the creamy cheese sauce (with bonus hidden veggies) in the macaroni and the crispy, baked breading on the nuggets that they won’t need anything extra after their meal.
Yumble offers healthy, nutritionally balanced kid’s meals that ease the stress of worrying about how much sugar your kid should have. Our goal is to deliver fresh and healthy prepared meals to your doorstep that are nutritionist-approved to ensure they don’t exceed the daily sugar intake for kids. Simply choose the plan that fits your family’s needs, select your meals, and we’ll take care of the rest! Get started today.