Is Your Child Eating Too Much Sugar?

Is Your Child Eating Too Much Sugar?

When our grandparents and great-grandparents were teenagers, warnings about eating too much sugar were mainly associated with dental cavities. They grew up thinking that fat made people fat, and that sugar was a relatively harmless treat to be eaten in moderation. Most meals were homemade, prepared from whole, natural ingredients. A slice of pound cake after church was perfectly normal and was not accompanied by guilt or followed by an extra half hour in the gym. Sugar was purposely added into desserts, dressings, yogurt, and other foods.

The story in America is very different today. We eat thirty times more sugar than our ancestors did only 200 years ago.

According to the USDA, teenagers aged 12-19 have the highest sugar intake at 137.4 pounds a year. That translates to 275 cups of sugar per year (one pound of sugar is equivalent to 2 cups), or ¾ cup of sugar per day!

Teenage boys consume more sugar than girls – over a cup a day-and surprisingly, adult males consume 38% more sugar than adult females. The problem isn’t just the bevy of treats and soft drinks that children love (one can of soda alone has almost half a cup of sugar), but the concealed sources all over the supermarket. If you read labels carefully, you’ll find sugar in ready-to-eat cereals, ketchup, milk products, canned foods, fruit-bottomed yogurt, salad dressings, crackers, breads, even toothpaste.

The Nutrition Facts panel on a food labels provides some (although rather misleading) information about a food’s sugar content. Labels indicate three numbers reflecting carbohydrate values, all measured in grams:

  • Total Carbohydrate (which includes various types of carbohydrates including dietary fibers, simple sugars, and other carbohydrates
  • Dietary (the more , the healthier the product)
  • Sugars (unfortunately, this value does not differentiate between natural and added sugars)

One gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram. In a product providing 140 calories per serving and 20 grams of carbohydrate, 80 of the 140 calories are carbohydrates (sugar).

To identify added sugars, you must read the list of ingredients. Sugar has many forms: high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, and words ending in “ose” (glucose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, sucrose). It is important to read food labels carefully to clarify whether a product has hidden sources of sugar. The following is a list of products that may be contributing to your child’s weight gain.

McDonald's French Fries Medium 47 grams 10 teaspoons
Coca Cola Classic 1 can (12oz) 40 grams 9 teaspoons
Welch's Grape Juice 1 cup (8oz) 40 grams 9 teaspoons
Mar's Bar 51 g bar 30 grams 6 teaspoons
Chocolate Milk 1 cup (8oz) 30 grams 6 teaspoons
Yoplait Kids 8oz 26 grams 5.5 teaspoons
White Bread 1 slice 12.7 grams 3 teaspoons
Corn Pops 1 serving 12 grams 3 teaspoons
Newman’s Own Marinara Spaghetti Sauce 1/2 cup 11 grams 3 teaspoons
Vanilla Silk Soy Milk 1 cup (8oz) 10 grams 2 teaspoons
Lender’s Fresh Blueberry Bagel 1 bagel 9 grams <2 teaspoons
Frozen Pizza 2 slices 5 grams 1 teaspoon
Wheat Thins 16 crackers 4 grams < 1 teaspoon
Hunt's Ketchup 1 Tbsp 4 grams < 1 teaspoon

To reduce your child’s sugar intake replace sugary snacks and foods with healthier alternatives:

  • Replace soda and fruit juices with water or fresh-pressed vegetable juice. Add a splash of natural juice to water for flavor.
  • Add fruit to sweeten natural whole grain cereals.
  • Replace white bread with natural whole grain or sprouted bread.
  • Trade saltine crackers for natural whole grain crackers.
  • Substitute fruit leather snacks with carrots and celery or real fruit.

Healthy doesn’t have to mean bland. A healthy meal or snack will leave your child feeling full and energized rather than experiencing the highs and lows of sugar.


USDA (2005). Retrived from:

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Lisa Roth Collins is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) and is the Marketing Manager at She is passionate about health and wellness and tries her best to make healthier choices every day for herself and her family. Her journey to natural health was driven by her own struggles with digestive discomfort, depression, and anxiety. Lisa returned to school in 2014 to study nutrition at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition. She threw herself into her studies so she could learn as much as she could to help herself feel better and thrive. Upon completing the program and being certified as an RHN, Lisa began her work at Naturally Savvy where she has been able to help so many people learn to make healthier choices for themselves. Through her work, she has connected with so many incredible people in the industry whether other authors, influencers, or brands. Plus, she is affectionately known as "Techie Spice" because of her ability to wrap her head around technology. Every day she gets up with a renewed sense of energy and ready to make a difference. You can read all of Lisa's content here. In her spare time, Lisa loves to try new recipes, make delicious and nourishing meals, and she is an avid reader. For more information about Lisa, check out her profile on here.