Sugary treats are the norm among children. Whether its cookies, cakes or sweets in general, kids have a sweet tooth that is hard to satisfy. However, there is increasing evidence that consuming too much sugary foods could be leading to long term problems in your child health. The worst part is that because you don’t suspect it, the damage is repeated countless times till it results in severe imbalances. Yes, we all know about the caries, but the problem goes much deeper than that. Here are describe some of the most striking health problems that children can have because of consuming too much sugary food.
Inability to focus
You must have heard that sugar hyper activates a child. The problem is that a child usually has a shorter attention span than adults. Hyperactivity results in further decrease in this attention span resulting in an inability to focus at school or even at home. The problem is that where wholesome food allows glucose to enter the blood slowly, sugary foods empties enormous amounts in a short time. These sudden changes in blood sugar levels hyper activates the child resulting in that loss of focus.
Increases risk of obesity
A fat cell, once formed, survives for 10 years before it dies. These fat cells simply change in size as they accumulate fat or loose it according to the calories ingested. This means that whatever extra sugar is being saved in the body of the child could result in weight problems ten years later. It could lead to a lifetime of weight issues and battle with calories. You need to understand the difference between a healthy and a fat child. Excess glucose will only lead to increased amounts of fat cells, and ultimately weight issues throughout life.
Interferes with immune function
Excessive sugary diets can result in tooth decay, but they can also cause infections within the body. Studies suggest that this may be due to the fact that many bacteria have sugar as their primary source of food. Hence, in an abundance of carbohydrate they can flourish and upset the delicate flora of the intestine resulting in infections, tummy aches and diarrhoea.
Affects behaviour and cognition
It may be hard to believe, but sugar can affect the child’s ability to learn. A study conducted in New York City public schools saw a staggering 15.7% increase in overall academic performance when sugars and artificial flavours and colours were removed from the school lunches and breakfasts. This represented the immense role of sugar in the diet of children.
Its common knowledge that sugar causes tooth decay. The decay is because children leave sugary treats embedded in their teeth for bacteria to act upon. Over the course of months to weeks, the bacteria keeps flourishing and boring into the tooth resulting in dental caries.
Croup and reflux
Many children have the habit of drinking sweetened milk or other sweetened dairy products. The combination of milk with sugar has slow digestion which means it stays in the stomach longer than normal. During the usual routine of the child this milk blended with acid refluxes back up the oesophagus, up to the larynx. This not only damages the oesophagus but also irritates the larynx which often causes the croupy cough, seen in children who drink sweetened milk before bed.
All these things point to the harmful effects of including sugar in your child’s diet. We are not against the sugar, instead, it is the quantity that has us concerned. There needs to be a balance. Sugar taken in right amounts at the right time isn’t harmful, but you need to be careful in setting stern limits for the betterment of your child’s health.
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The Center for Parenting Education. (2017). Sugar and Our Children – What’s the Deal?. [online] Available at: http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/nutrition-and-healthy-lifestyle/sugar-and-our-childrenwhats-the-deal/ [Accessed 7 Apr. 2017].
sugar, H. (2017). Hyperactivity and sugar: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002426.htm [Accessed 7 Apr. 2017].