How much sugar is recommended for children?

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An nutrition advises on the maximum sugar intake for kids and suggests some easy sugar swaps.

By Anna Bonet

Thanks to fizzy drinks and sugary breakfast cereals, it’s no secret that children are consuming too much sugar these days. The most recent research warns that kids are exceeding the recommended sugar intake for an 18-year-old by the time they hit 10.

But how much sugar is too much for children? And how can we control their daily intake? Nutritionist Kawther Hashem from Action on Sugar offers her expert advice:

How much sugar is it OK to consume?

According to Public Health England (PHE), the recommended daily maximum amount of sugar for children depends on what age they are. These are outlined below:

? Four to six year olds: 19g, or five teaspoons.

? Seven to 10 year olds: 24g, or six teaspoons.

? 11 year olds and above: 30g, or seven teaspoons.

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What are the health risks of excess sugar?

In moderate amounts sugar is not detrimental to your health. However, with overweight and obesity levels at an all-time high in the UK, most of us consume too much sugar; especially children. Excessive sugar consumption in children poses a number of long and short term health risks.

There is increasing evidence that sugar is dangerous beyond its calorific value.

‘Sugar not only lacks any nutritional value, but it contributes to excess calorie intake,’ says Hashem.

‘This means eating too much of it leads to weight gain, raising the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.’

‘There is also increasing evidence that sugar is dangerous beyond its calorific value, increasing the risk of fatty liver disease,’ adds Hashem. ‘Sugar is also without doubt a huge factor in tooth decay.’

Sugar swaps for kids

Because of the health risks of excess sugar, it’s important to help children gradually cut down. There are few easy ways for kids to cut down on sugar without missing out on sweet treats. Hashem recommends the following healthy sugar swaps:

✔️ Instead of fizzy drinks (which are full of sugar), give children water or unsweetened fruit juice, and try diluting fruit juice with sparkling water to make a fizzy drink.

✔️ Swap cakes or biscuits for a lower sugar alternative, such as a scone or some malt loaf, and rather than spreading jam or marmalade on toast, try a low-fat spread, sliced banana or low-fat cream cheese.

✔️ Check nutrition labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar.

✔️ If you bake, try halving the sugar in the recipes, opt for tins of fruit preserved in juice rather than syrup, and when choosing breakfast cereals, go for wholegrain options, but not those coated with sugar or honey.

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