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Study: Children Eating Too Much Hidden Sugar

March 14, 2012, 6:08 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Study: Children Eating Too Much Hidden Sugar

You probably try to limit the amount of sugar your children or grandchildren eat.  But, new research shows kids are still getting plenty of the sweet stuff.

On average they get an extra 320 calories a day from added sugars.  Experts say you shouldn't eat more 100 to 150 calories in sugar a day.  But there are ways to cut sugar intake and improve your child's health.

One-and-a-half year old Elizabeth Lindell is a big fan of fruits now.  But, her mother knows there are plenty of not-so-healthy sweets to tempt her.

"She gets exposed to things when she goes to Grandma's house. She gets fruit snacks, and that's very popular on her list.  So, when she sees those, she recognizes those," Elizabeth's mother Aleta Lindell said.

And the average American kid eats a lot of those sweets. Added sugars make up about 16 percent of their daily calories.

"That can lead to added medical problems such as breathing problems, diabetes, even cholesterol problems in these young children," Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Kristin Sousek said.

While it's obvious to most people that cookies or candies can contain a lot of sugar, some sugars are more hidden. For example, a plain store-bought bagel may only have three grams of sugar.  But when you look at the cinnamon raisin version, there's 11 grams of sugar.

Sousek says the best way to cut sugar intake is to read labels. Some foods parents think are healthy actually contain a lot of sugar.

"A lot of the things we are actually giving our kids, a lot of the granola bars, fruit strips or snacks, juice boxes, those types of things," Sousek said.

Instead, Sousek says you should opt for fruits, low fat dairy, or whole grain cereal.

"We need to set a precedence for our kids as far as what we not only consume ourselves, but what we purchase and what is available to them in the home. They're only going to eat what they can pull out of the cupboards and fridge," Sousek said.

And that's why Lindell is paying extra close attention as she roams the aisles.

"Especially now that she's getting on solid foods and especially with cereals. When you look in the cereal aisle, we really look for cereals that have a low ratio of sugar," Lindell said.

Sousek also says to limit pop, energy drinks, and fruit juices. A government analysis shows teens who drink sugary beverages consume an extra 327 calories a day from them.

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