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How Hidden Sugars Increase Childhood Obesity Risk

Updated on June 26, 2015
Obese Child
Obese Child | Source

Hidden sugars in processed food and drinks increase the risk of childhood obesity. Child obesity carries many dangers, including risk of type-2 diabetes, eye problems, heart diseases and kidney failure. Junk foods such as pizza, baked food, processed food and sports drinks contain hidden sugars added by manufacturers to enhance taste. Hidden sugars also act as food preservatives.

In a sugar intake research conducted for the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Madeleine Sigman of the University of Nevada reported on the use of sugar during food preparation in the U.S. The author determines the natural human preference for sweetness that we are all born with. Breast milk and infant formula contain lower levels of sugar (lactose). The preference for sweet food, combined with the added sugars in baked, processed food and drinks has contributed greatly to the current childhood obesity crisis in the U.S and other developed countries. These hidden sugars add quality and safety to food.

Health Dangers of Hidden Sugar

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared war on hidden sugars in food in order to fight the child obesity epidemic. High levels of hidden sugars are also causing tooth decay in children. The WHO recommended sugar intake for adults is 6 teaspoons each day. The maximum limit, as per WHO, is 12 teaspoons daily. For children, the recommended daily sugar intake is half of an adult. Sugar should not contribute more than 10% of you daily energy needs. While children definitely need more energy due to their growing bodies, excess sugar gets converted into fat - making children obese.

Processed Food Has Hidden Sugar
Processed Food Has Hidden Sugar | Source

Take Action on Excess Sugar

Latest childhood obesity statistics indicate that one in three kids in the U.S. is either overweight or obese. This high rate doubled during the last 30 years, and these obese children are highly likely to become obese adults. The Action on Sugar lobby group is one of many that are concerned about the health dangers due to excessive sugar consumption among children. The WHO and these lobby groups are pushing for cuts in the levels of sugar in baked and processed food, facing intensive opposition from the food manufacturers.

Why Added Sugars and Caloric Sweeteners cause Obesity

Sugars mostly pass through the mouth and stomach undigested. Most digestion of sugar occurs in the small intestine. After absorption, sugar gets transported into body cells and is further broken down into glucose. Glucose is normally released into the bloodstream to provide energy to body tissues, but excess glucose is converted into glycogen and stored as fat in the body.

Stop Childhood Obesity Using Natural Sugar Substitutes

To overcome the dangerous health effects of hidden sugar, parents should limit their children's junk food intake. Honey, home-made fruit juices, smoothies and syrups are excellent substitutes for baked and processed foods. To increase the energy in a child's diet, include more whole grains - such as whole bread, whole rice. Milk, fresh fruits and vegetables also help to reduce obesity in children. Food manufacturers can not eliminate sugar from food completely, but we can reduce the amount that we and our children consume. Lower sugar intake will go a long way in combating and reducing the current childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S, and other regions of the world.


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    • Kamiti profile image

      Harrison 2 years ago

      Yes, ensuring healthy diet for children is the best way to overcome the childhood obesity epidemic. It's nice to have you here.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The increase in childhood obesity is frightening. Your suggestion that children eat more whole foods is excellent. It's a great suggestion for adults, too! Many of us need to reduce the amount of processed foods and concentrated sweeteners in our diet.