NJ Pediatric Dentist Reveals How Much Sugar Your Child is Eating for Breakfast
As a pediatric dentist in NJ, one of the biggest challenges I see with children is controlling the amount of sugar in their diet. A big problem parents face is understanding how much sugar is acceptable for their child on a daily basis, and then knowing how to quantify the amount of sugar their child is actually consuming each day.
Many parents will be shocked to learn that some breakfast foods marketed for kids have as much sugar in one serving as two tablespoons of cake frosting! If you’re feeding your kids pop tarts for breakfast (one of the worst offenders), you might as well let them eat cake frosting for breakfast. Could you imagine ever handing your child a tablespoon of cake frosting for breakfast????
Unfortunately by the time children have their first visit to a NJ pediatric dentist, a lot of damage is already done. Becoming more savvy about reading levels and understanding servings per day can help save your child’s teeth from the very detrimental effects of sugar.
To understand how we measure sugar in out diet it’s good to know that 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar, 8 grams = 2 teaspoons of sugar, etc. Adults are supposed to get no more than 32 grams (8 teaspoons) of sugar a day, that’s based on a 2,000 calorie. Children need less calories than adults, so their sugar intake should be less. Preschoolers with a daily caloric intake of 1,200 to 1,400 calories shouldn’t consume any more than 170 calories, or about 4 teaspoons, of added sugar a day. Children ages 4-8 with a daily caloric intake of 1,600 calories should consume no more than 130 calories, or about 3 teaspoons a day. (source)
Would You Give Your Child Cake Frosting For Breakfast?
2 tablespoons of cake frosting has about 24 grams of sugar, 6 teaspoons! That’s double the recommended sugar intake for some kids. Some Kellog’s Pop Tarts have 20 grams of sugar per serving (some had more, some had less). That’s over 5 teaspoons of sugar for your child – for breakfast!. More then the total recommended amount for the entire day!
Figuring Out Your Child’s Sugar Intake
So just how much sugar are kids getting each day? You might be surprised to learn that many of their favorite breakfast cereals are also loaded with sugar, Pop Tarts aren’t the only offender. Consumer Reports conducted a survey of popular children’s cereal and found that 23 of the top 27 cereals marketed to children rated only Good or Fair for nutrition. There is at least as much sugar in a serving of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and 10 other rated cereals as there is in a glazed doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts. Two cereals, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and Post Golden Crisp, are more than 50 percent sugar (by weight) and nine are at least 40 percent sugar. And that’s not the only issue. Although Kellogg’s Rice Krispies has only 4 grams of sugar per serving, it got only a Fair rating, largely because it is higher in sodium and has zero dietary fiber. (source)
Consider the fact that your child may have a glass of juice with breakfast, possibly a Capri Sun Sip for lunch and maybe a glass of soda with dinner. In addition to the 20 grams of sugar consumed at breakfast, they just added another 57 grams of sugar for the day, bringing the grand total to 77 grams of sugar–nearly 20 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR FOR THE DAY! Could you imagine spoon feeding your child 20 teaspoons of sugar? You might be.
How to Reduce Sugar Intake in Kids
Be more savvy when shopping, read the labels. Remember the numbers above – 3 teaspoons of sugar a day for kids, that’s 12 grams. If the item has more than the daily recommended amount of sugar in just one serving, leave it on the shelf.
Replace sugary drinks with water or fresh brewed ice-tea that you can sweeten naturally with agave or even frozen fruit (they make great ice cubes and as they defrost add a naturally sweet flavor to the tea). For breakfast, replace sugar-laden cereals with ones that offer whole grain benefits. Sweeten cereal with some fresh fruit or try almond milk or rice milk, both have a sweeter taste then regular milk with less sugar.
Remember, there is absolutely ZERO health benefits in consuming sugar. Every time you feed your child you have an opportunity to nourish their mind and body. Take every opportunity as a chance to improve your child’s life and set them up for the future with healthy eating habits.
If you have any questions about the health of your child’s teeth, please call NJ pediatric dentist Dr Diane Baldwin at 732.202.7114.
About Point Pleasant Dentistry for Children
Dr Diane Baldwin and the team at Point Pleasant Dentistry for Children specialize in dental care for children and adolescents.
Dr. Baldwin graduated first in her class from UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School in 2005, where she was the recipient of the William S. Kramer Award for excellence in dentistry Dr. Baldwin went on to complete a post-doctoral training program in pediatric dentistry at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 2007 where she received extensive training in the management of dental care for children with special medical needs. She continues to serve as a clinical affiliate at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.