Excessive sugar consumption can have a negative impact on the health and nutritional status of children. Here are some of the effects of sugar on child nutrition:
Increased calorie intake: Sugary foods and beverages are often high in calories but low in nutrients. When children consume too much sugar, they may end up consuming more calories than their bodies need, which can lead to obesity.
Decreased appetite for healthy foods: Foods high in sugar can be very filling and may decrease a child’s appetite for nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. This can lead to inadequate intake of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Increased risk of tooth decay: Sugary foods and beverages can contribute to the development of tooth decay in children. When sugar is consumed, bacteria in the mouth produce acid that can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities.
Increased risk of chronic diseases: Excessive sugar consumption in childhood has been linked to an increased risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers later in life.
Negative impact on behaviour and cognition: Studies have found that excessive sugar consumption may contribute to behavioural and cognitive problems in children, including hyperactivity, inattention, and impaired learning and memory.
Occasionally, honey contains bacteria (Clostridium Botulinum) that can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, leading to infant botulism, a very serious illness. Honey is a sugar, and avoiding it will also prevent tooth decay. Do not give your child honey or sugar until they’re over one year old.
It is also important to note that not all sugar is created equal. Natural sugars found in whole fruits, vegetables, and dairy products can be part of a healthy diet. However, added sugars found in processed foods and sugary beverages should be limited. The American Heart Association recommends that children should consume not more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added/refined sugars per day.
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