The Sugar Content of Snacks Marketed to Kids

Eating too much sugar may not seem like a big deal, but sugar withdrawal has been shown to have similar effects to drug withdrawal — and it can cause psychological and physical harm, especially in children. To make it worse, parents are often unaware that their kids are consuming too much sugar because it is loaded into food that you’d expect to be relatively healthy.

For example, you wouldn’t pack five donuts in your child’s lunchbox, right? However, if you give your kid a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a fruit cup, and a Minute Maid apple juice, you are filling him or her up with nearly 80 grams of sugar. This amount of sugar is equivalent to 20 teaspoons. Those five donuts? 55 grams.

The point is to check food labels for the sneaky sugars found in processed foods, cereal, Gatorade, fast food kid’s meals, and other products that are targeted toward children.

An unhealthy amount of sugar can lead to many health risks that include:

  • Tooth decay, which is the most common chronic childhood disease, according to the American Dental Association. Every time your child eats sugar, acid is produced, which attacks teeth for 20 minutes. This process leads to cavities.
  • Obesity and obesity-related health issues, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, joint problems, and liver disease.
  • Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, and insecurity and low self-esteem for children who are obese.
  • Malnutrition, because sugar contains calories, but no nutrients.

Kids under 18 years old should only consume 25 grams of sugar a day. So look for low-sugar alternatives, and if your kids are like mine, they are already sweet enough.

How many grams of sugar per day should children take in, and how much are we giving them? We’ve taken a closer look at the top foods marketed to children and mapped just how much sugar is in juice boxes, candies, and snacks.

Take a look at the absurdly high amount of sugar in foods! List the number of these items children have per day and see if it’s close to the recommended average sugar intake per day for kids. While it’s well-known that certain for-kids foodstuffs, like cereal, are sugary, other children-targeted items, like juice boxes and fruit snacks, can sneak in gram after gram of sugar. Kids’ snacks can be delicious in moderation, but watch out for excess sugar everywhere!

How Much Sugar Should a Child Have a Day?

The American Heart Association recently did an exhaustive study, resulting in this number:

  • For children ages 2 to 18 years old: 25 grams or less (6 teaspoons) of added sugar daily.

When you’re considering how much sugar per day is healthy, note that added sugars and natural sugars are different. Added sugars included high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.

Unfortunately, as of now, nutrition labels in America only require the total grams of all sugar to be listed, but For a grown person, it’s recommended to have somewhere between 37.5 grams (for men) and 25 grams (for women) — only slightly more than the average daily sugar intake for children. That’s what we’re supposed to have, but how much do we actually eat? The University of California San Francisco estimates that the average American has about 82 grams each day.

How Much Sugar Is Too Much for Kids?

While sugar addiction in kids is a real risk, the true consequence of going well beyond the recommended daily grams of sugar for children is a “strange state of malnutrition” that leads to child obesity.

Too many calories and not enough nutrients is a recipe for disaster. Is sugar good for children? Natural sugars, like those in fruit, are actually necessary parts of anyone’s diet, but added sugars are the thing to watch.

The AHA tells us that children frequently have double the daily recommended intake of added sugars in the forms of snacks. The real culprit, however, is beverages, according to the World Health Organization. Let’s be cautious about the foods marketed to children and how much sugar is packed in kids’ snacks and work for a healthier and more fit tomorrow.