Dear readers, we need to understand the science of sugar. Foods high in added sugars, Dr. Lustig – a renowned American Pediatric Endocrinologist in an interview, are metabolized differently than those that are naturally sweet. An apple has fibre, which creates a type of gel in our small intestine that effectively blocks a certain amount of sugar from being absorbed by the body and instead causes it to be devoured by bacteria in the intestine. The fructose in sugary soda can only be metabolized by the liver and is then converted into fat. That fat either remains in the liver, potentially leading to life threatening fatty liver disease, or is converted as a triglyceride, possibly leading to cardiovascular disease and obesity. Sugar does not discriminate.
An alarming new study published in medical Journal Obesity, claims that sugar is actually toxic to your body. Intake of extra sugar itself or the weight gain caused by eating lots of sugar,lead to health issues.Overweight or obese children are much more likely to be dangerously overweight in adulthood and thus increase their risk of developing 11 forms of cancer.
Sugar is deemed toxic for all age groups – at least in overweight /obese kids. Unfortunately, world at large, continues to gulp down more sugar than ever before. Thepresent-day dietmade available to children is not health food at all; instead it is “kid food” like potato chips, pizza, bagels and Samosas. This completely proves that it’s not just the fat or the oils from junk food which are the bad guys, sugar is muscling in to be the real villain. Sugar turns into fat in the liver and affects the insulin resistance. Clearly, sugar is toxic irrespective of its calories and the weight gain it causes.
How much sugar is OK for children?
I asked renowned pediatrician Dr Pargat Singh Bhurji about sugar’s role in a child’s diet. Pat came the reply, “Let’s start by looking at American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations. The new guidelines call for less than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of sugar per day for children ages 2 to 18 years. That includes no more than 8 ounces of sugarsweetened drinks per week. Children younger than 2 years should have no sugar at all.”
Children and young people aged between 10 and 18 years typically have an intake of 73.2 grams of sugar a day, far in excess of the 30gms – or seven teaspoons – maximum recommended by medical fraternity. Those 73.2gms are at par with 20 chocolate chips or custard cream biscuits or 4.8 jamfilled doughnuts. It also found that four- to 10-year-olds are consuming 53.5g of sugar a day, while the figure among 19- to 64-year-olds is 59 gm. daily.
Now let us understand the logic behind the revised guidelines. Why AHA adjusted sugar limits downward? Because eating lots of added sugar early in life is linked to obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. And those problems put children and young adults at higher risk for heart disease. Plus, filling up on sugary treats leaves less room in young tummies for heart-healthy food like fruits, veggies, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
Sugar – aman- made sweet poison:
WHEN WE EAT MORE SUGAR than what is optimally required,it makes our organs fat by triggering the liver to convert it into fat and store it. Over time, a diet high in sugar could lead to globules of fat building around the liver, often the first step of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, something which was unheard of till the 1980s.
Sugar mallets your heart:
Heart disease, High Blood pressure, Brain Attack and diabetes are inter-related. It will not be out of place to mention that HeartDisease and Brain Attack are the number one cause of death among people with type 2 diabetes i.e. accounting for more than 65% deaths.
Sugar primes our bodies for overweight, obesity and diabetes: A study found that for every 150 calories from man- made sugar, your risk of diabetes goes up by a little more than 1%. Due to extra sugar gushing recklessly in our blood vessels, they lose their elasticity. Added sugars cause release of excess insulin in the bloodstream, which tense the artery walls. Now that puts you on the road to high blood pressure, and ultimately, makes a Brain Attack or heart attack more likely.
Parents should read labels,understand the mathunderneath it:
Parents needto read food labels, find ‘sugar,’ and do the math — every 4.2 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon. That can add up fast, especially when kids ask for more and more. The worst sugars are in processed foods, sports drinks, pop, desserts and fruit juice [ purchased from market]. So, don’t rush to introduce this fruit juice to your kids — it has no nutritional value. The smart move is to make a juice in your home with fiber in it by using Nutri Bullet type of juicer.
By July 2018, as per U.S. Food and Drug Administration, all manufacturers will clearly call out added sugars on food labels. In Canada it is being made mandatory.
Meanwhile, review a product’s ingredients list for sugar (also known by names like high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice and honey). Sugar is listed on product-label under 56 different names so as to befool us. We need to get more educated.
Parents need to regulate:
Parents need to regularly offer kids healthy choices at every meal and let them choose what they need. It may be fruit salad or eggs ormeat or vegetables first thing in the morning rather than at lunch or dinner — and that’s a smart thing to do. Children have an in born ability to adjust their diet to their energy intake. They can self-regulate the triage need of protein, fat and carbohydrates.”
Offer sweets to children in moderation:
Sweet treats, definitely have a place in your child’s diet, but it shouldn’t be every day. Dear Parents/ Grand-parents, sweets should be given strictly as a treat, in reasonable portions, on special occasions or days.
Eating brings joy, but that joy should be geared toward the process of satisfying hunger. Children can’t choose a well balanced diet, but their parents can and should do so, right from the beginning. Do not give sweets as the first thing to a child immediately at the time of birth.
Do not give honey to the new born, as it can result in Botulism;an uncommon, but potentially very serious illness, a type of food poisoning, that produces paralysis of muscles via a nerve toxin called botulinum toxin (“Botox”) that is manufactured by bacteria named Clostridium botulinum.
A question may be hitting at the doors of your minds; honey is given as first thing in South Asian culture to the new born baby yet no reaction happens. The reasoning is, in most of the cases the honey is fake i.e. it is nothing but man-made sugar or quantity of honey given is very less. For the first six months a child does not have an immunity of his/her own [ as the same is provided by mothers’ milk.]
Honey should not be given to a new born at least for one year, as per pediatricians.
Other alternatives available….
Treat kids to oranges, apples, avocados, dried fruit or trail mix rather than ice cream, cookies and sugary cereal. When we are hungry, food tastes delicious.
Parents should lead by example not by advice. Advice does not work, if parents are into junk food stuff themselves.It helps when parents model good eating habits and choose to eat fruits and veggies every day without fail.
The food and drink industry also, can play a vital role, in helping tackle obesity rates by reducing the sugar content in their products and making the healthy choice the easy choice.
Sugar Tax slapped in some countries:
Some countries have introduced similar measures. Mexico introduced a 10 per cent tax on sugary drinks in 2014 and registered a 12% reduction in sugar in soft drinks over the year by manufacturers.Hungary did the same and saw a 40% decrease in the amount of sugar in the products.Many European countries have initiated similar measures in place on soft drinks namely in UK, France, Finland. Norway has upped chocolate and sugar products tax by 83% as compared with last year to curtail sugar adding.
What Canada is doing amid the global sugar tax initiatives
In our country childhood obesity rates are on the rise. To take proper cudgels against added sugar in soft drinks and fruit juices, we need to do much more. Scores are in favour of a sugar tax on manufacturers– the list includes the WHO, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Diabetes Canada.
These organizations advocate the tax levy, will save lives and reduce health-care costs while at the same time raise billions for health-related initiatives.The good news is, soft-drink consumption in Canada, has already declined significantly in recent years and is the game is still on.
Successive sugar consumption turns you into an addicted junkie. It will not be out of place to mention that sugar addiction makes the same chemical changes in your brain[ at serotonin level] as sexual pleasure or heroin and other hard drugs so as to experience pleasure.
So far, the government has announced changes to food and beverage labels, including a nutritional fact-table wherein Sugar-based ingredients, such as honey and syrups, will be grouped together under the generic term “sugars” in the ingredients list.The government has also held public consultations on new regulatory measures to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, as well as on a revision to Canada’s Food Guide and front-of-package nutrition labelling.A number of health organizations” had urged the government to implement a tax.
Bottomline: THE SCIENCE OF SUGAR
“Sorry to Ruin Your thinking; sugar is a man-made poison. This sweet stuff is wrecking our bodies. Death by sugar’ is not an overstatement. Mind it
Sweet treats fascinate children. It’s tempting for parents and grandparents to reward good behaviour of their children to see little faces light up. Dear parent, moderation is the key.
It is time for Canada to move forward with a Sugar tax on manufacturers of water based and juice based added sugar beverages,it will earmark revenues for health care and include fruit juice, which is “liquid sugar” infused with a few synthetic vitamins that give parents the illusion that it is a healthy choice.
Laconically, I can say: “Situation calls for a surgery not a minor incision.”
Prof. Surinder Kochhar (Shaun)
LPN, FCN, M.Com, CAIIB, DIM A freelance writer with 36 Years Exp. A Health Coach of University of Victoria