By Jordan Biordi
A new report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) said it recommends reducing free-sugar intake by children by 10 per cent; that’s a reduction of 25 grams, or six teaspoons.
Free-sugar refers to any sugar that is added to food by the manufacturer.
According to the WHO’s website, the guideline aims to clear some commonly misconceived notions about having a high sugar diet and the dangers of consuming too much sugar. The study also offers guidelines for regulating sugar intake.
The WHO warns there are dangers of free-sugar in things like candy and pop, but also cautions about added sugar in processed foods and condiments.
“The danger is definitely the development of a dental disease, especially in kids and the other thing of course is obesity,” Rowena Santillan, a registered Brampton dietitian, told Humber News.
Santillan said she recommends that children only have between two and three teaspoons of sugar a day, but she said, “I always treat a person or child individually, so it can vary. There’s an age range as well, so it’s not just kids in general. So I would say kids under five should have about a teaspoon [a day] and kids between five and twelve would be about two teaspoons.”
“Make sure that most of the sugar that kids are getting is from fresh fruit, less processed food and foods like that,” she said.
Humber’s Early Childhood Education centre adheres to these same principles offering freshly cooked meals for kids, low in sugars and high in nutrients.
Marcie Miranda-Gallo, supervisor of the ECE centre, said the center prepares meals for the kids, throughout the day, and those menus need to be approved by a dietician. The meals can consist of fresh cut apple slices in the morning, whole wheat spaghetti at lunch and freshly made oatmeal muffins and bananas at the end of the day.
Miranda-Gallo is a mom of two herself and she said when referring to her four-year-old daughter, “When we have dinner and it’s dessert time, it’s not like cake or anything like that, I’ll be like ‘ok here’s your dessert’ and it’s blueberries. And yes it’s sweet, and there is sugar in it, but it’s a natural sugar, so I try to incorporate more natural choices in terms of sweets.”
She also said, “I’m not going to stop her from having a treat but I am more aware of the sugar intake that she’s having.”
The problem also lies in choosing the healthy alternative. Parents might think skipping the fries and going for the apple slices might seem like a good choice, but taking the example of just one nutrition guide— from McDonald’s — a small fries contains zero sugar, while a bag of apple slices contains eight grams equal to 2 teaspoons of sugar.
However, these nutrition facts do not account for added sugars.
Misinformation is another big part of the problem. If you visit McDonald’s online interactive nutrition guide, which allows you to build a meal to see the nutritional values, on first glance it only shows calories, carbs, fat, sodium and proteins, but no sugars. If you dig deep you can find the sugar contents listed.
However, on the Canadian site, it’s listed in grams, which may be misleading for some Canadians who use the metric system.
Even news pundit John Oliver warns of the dangers of high sugar intake, in his hit new HBO show “Last Week Tonight.”