We often hear that kids plus sugar is a sure recipe for disaster, but do you need to avoid giving kids sweets forever? Does sugar really cause kids to be more hyper-active than others? Is it wrong to give treats as a reward for a job well done? Wouldn’t limiting sugar intake make kids want it even more? There are a lot of questions when it comes to the sugar consumption of kids, so let’s start by answering some of the most common ones. While we aim to provide you with informative content helpful to all moms and dads, remember that it’s always best to consult your pediatrician for advice tailored specifically for your child.
There are significantly more studies that say sugar does not cause hyperactivity than there are studies that say there is a connection. One common experience that backs up the myth is children’s behavior at children’s parties. Parents are quick to put the blame on birthday cake or other sweet treats being served, but excitement from the games and all the other kids could also be the kicker. It’s always different for every child. Observe how yours reacts after consuming sugar to determine if they’re more sensitive to sugar than other.
We all know how important it is for growing and developing kids to meet their nutritional requirements. Too many calories from sugary treats may take away room in your child’s daily diet supposedly for nutritious food, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Continued high sugar intake may increase the risk of cavities and digestive issues when they’re older. It may also lead to future health concerns like weight gain and obesity.
You don’t need to eliminate sugar entirely. Exposure to it can actually teach your child to self-regulate sweets and prevent him or her from over-indulging when it’s served to them. Remember that babies are born with a preference for sweetness (or mama’s breastmilk), but in time, they learn to consume a healthy balance of difference foods. Avoid using language and phrases that categorize food as good and bad to help your child develop a healthy and positive relationship with food.
“You can have some cake after you eat all the vegetables on your plate,” said almost every mom ever. But did we ever stop and think that this might be sending the wrong message about vegetables, too? Eating vegetables is not a challenge that needs to be overcome, while desserts should not be seen as a prize or something superior to other food. Why not try stamps or stickers as a reward or if you have some time, maybe even genuine words of affirmation and quality playtime with your kid?
Kids can only eat the things they have access to. You don’t always need sugary beverages in your pantry or ice cream in the freezer. Try and manage your grocery list so that there are plenty options to choose from for delicious and nutritious snacks. Make sure to read nutrition labels well when choosing between different brands of food you plan to serve to the family. There are a number of snacks marketed as healthy choices that actually pack more sugar per serving than the recommended daily intake for kids.
Drayer, L., How to Stop Sugar from Sneaking into Your Child’s Diet, 2016.
Hartney, E., Too Much Sugar Can Cause Health Problems in Kids, 2022.
Lindberg, E., You Know Sugar is Bad for Your Kids. Here’s What You Can Do, 2020.
Newman, T., Medical Myths: Does Sugar Make Children Hyperactive, 2020.