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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Mary Poppins may have had the wrong idea when she sang, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Consuming too much sugar (especially whole spoonfuls!) can mean a one-way ticket to the dentist’s chair—and unfortunately, hardly anyone escapes it, new research shows.
According to a new study published in the journal BMC Public Health, sugar is the lone culprit when it comes to causing tooth decay, which is actually classified as a chronic disease. And almost everyone in the U.S. is affected by it: 60 to 90 percent of school-age children have experienced tooth decay, and adults are even worse—92 percent of people ages 20 to 64 have experienced tooth decay in at least one of their teeth, TIME reports.
Besides over-consumption of things like soda, fruit beverages, and dessert items, sugar often hides in many pre-packaged and restaurant foods you would never expect.
One of the study’s co-authors, Professor Philip James, Honorary Professor of Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and past President of the World Obesity Federation, made these suggestions in a statement:
“We need to make sure that use of fruit juices and the concept of sugar-containing treats for children are not only no longer promoted, but explicitly seen as unhelpful. Food provided at nurseries and schools should have a maximum of free sugars in the complete range of foods amounting to no more than 2.5% of energy.
“Vending machines offering confectionary and sugary drinks in areas controlled or supported financially by local or central government should be removed. We are not talking draconian policies to ‘ban’ such sugar-rich products, which are available elsewhere, but no publicly-supported establishment should be contributing to the expensive problems of dental caries, obesity and diabetes.”
The World Health Organization recently decreased its recommended sugar intake from 10 percent to 5 percent of a person’s daily caloric consumption, the BBC reports. But this study’s authors recommend no more than 3 percent.
Several Parents editors, inspired by Eve Schaub’s book “Year of No Sugar,” tried a day of no sugar a few months ago. Could you and your family do it?
Photo of sugar courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Monday, May 19th, 2014
Connecticut legislators have sent to the governor a measure that would prohibit public schools from offering chocolate milk and some juices to children, citing the beverages’ links to imbalanced nutrition when it comes to fat, salt, and sugar. More from CBS News:
If he signs it, Connecticut would be the first state in the country — not just a single school district –to ban chocolate milk in school cafeterias. The law would go into effect next September.
Politicians in the state faced pressure to pass school nutrition rules or risk forfeiting funds from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a federal policy that sets requirements for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Programs, which includes its school lunch program. However, the USDA points out that the Act does not ban individual food items. A USDA spokesperson told CBS News that it does require flavored milks to be non-fat.
Under the state proposal, schools in Connecticut would only be allowed to serve low-fat, unflavored milk and beverages without artificial sweeteners, added sodium or more than four grams of sugar per ounce.
Chocolate milk contains high fructose corn syrup and up to 200 milligrams of sodium, which means it won’t make the cut.
Some child nutritionists think the proposed law will backfire and jeopardize the health of children in the state. Jill Castle, a registered dietician and nutritionist from New Canaan, Conn., told CBS affiliate WFSB that when chocolate milk is removed from the cafeteria the overall consumption of milk goes down.
“From a nutrient profile, you’re getting calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorous, protein, and other nutrients,” said Castle.
But some food experts disagree. Marlene Schwartz, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, says the ban means that the food industry will simply need to adjust.
“This isn’t going to keep out flavored milk,” Schwartz told the Hartford Courant. “All it’s going to do it make sure the flavored milk that’s in there is not going to have added salt.”
Make mornings easier with our Healthy Breakfast On-The-Go guide.
Image: Chocolate milk, via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 16th, 2014
The cereal aisle is often the site of parent-child debates over colorful, sugar-laden brands. But parents may be surprised to learn that “sugary” doesn’t really describe a number of options–the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has analyzed more than 1,500 breakfast cereals and identified a dozen that contain more than 50 percent sugar by weight. Children’s cereals contain the highest percentage of sugar as a group–34 percent–and many of the worst offenders are actually store brands, the group found. EWG also estimates that American kids will consume 10 pounds of sugar each year at the breakfast table.
Here is the EWG’s “Hall of Shame” list of the worst offenders. A single serving of these cereals represents at least half of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily sugar limit for kids:
- Kellogg’s Honey Smacks (56% sugar by weight)
- Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs (56%)
- Mom’s Best Cereals Honey-Ful Wheat (56%)
- Malt-O-Meal Berry Colossal Crunch with Marshmallows (53%)
- Post Golden Crisp (52%)
- Grace Instant Green Banana Porridge (51%)
- Blanchard & Blanchard Granola (51%)
- Lieber’s Cocoa Frosted Flakes (88%)
- Lieber’s Honey Ringee Os (67%)
- Food Lion Sugar Frosted Wheat Puffs (56%)
- Krasdale Fruity Circles (53%)
- Safeway Kitchens Silly Circles (53%)
Running just behind the top 12 are Apple Jacks with Marshmallows (50%), and Froot Loops with Marshmallows (48%), both of which are produced by Kellogg’s.
For less sugary options, the EWG identifed these 10 brands as having the least amount of sugar per serving:
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, Gluten-Free (1g)
- General Mills Cheerios (1g)
- Post 123 Sesame Street, C Is For Cereal (1g)
- Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (3g)
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (4g)
- Kellogg’s Crispix Cereal (4g)
- Springfield Corn Flakes Cereal (2g)
- Valu Time Crisp Rice Cereal (3g)
- Roundy’s Crispy Rice (4g)
- Shop Rite Scrunchy Crispy Rice (4g)
The EWG recommends that parents read the Nutrition Facts labels carefully and choose cereals with the lowest sugar content. “Look for cereals that are low-sugar [no more than a teaspoon (4 grams) per serving] or moderately sweetened [less than 1½ teaspoons (6 grams) per serving],” the report recommends. Better yet, it suggests, prepare breakfast from scratch, using whole grains like quick-cooking oatmeal and real fruits like bananas.
Earlier this week, Kellogg Co announced plans to drop “All Natural” and “100 Percent Natural” labels from some of its Kashi and Bear Naked products in response to a lawsuit that alleged fraudulent use of those terms.
Click here for more healthy breakfasts on-the-go inspiration!
Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock
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American Heart Association, breakfast, cereal, Cheerios, Environmental Working Group, General Mills, Kellogg, nutrition, Post, store brands, sugar | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read
Friday, April 11th, 2014
Grocery store shelves have long held products that are labeled “honey” but are actually more like “honey blends” that mix pure honey with cane sugar, corn syrup, or other sweeteners. The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidelines that will help families know what they’re buying. More from Boston.com:
The Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines Tuesday that will require companies to label any honey that is not pure, or even food containing this honey, with “blend of sugar and honey” or “blend of honey and corn syrup,” depending on the ingredients. This policy change is the result of organizations like the American Beekeeping Federation and other honey associations petitioning against the common food industry practice of misrepresenting “pure honey.”
So why do we care?
Calorically, honey and sugar have approximately the same amount of calories if you compare teaspoons, said Alicia Romano, a clinical registered dietitian at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center. “But with raw honey you might get more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties. Ultimately, though, the way our bodies break down the two is the same.”
Pure honey is part sugar (glucose and fructose) and part minerals (iron, calcium, phosphate, potassium, magnesium, and sodium chlorine). While many of the medicinal properties attributed to honey require further research, the natural process of honey gives it anti-inflammatory properties that you may miss out on in a sugary substitute.
For example, a 2012 randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Pediatrics found that natural honey (recommended by the World Health Organization as a cough medication) was superior to a placebo in alleviating a night-time cough associated with upper respiratory infections for children older than one year.
But don’t go honey-crazy yet. Sugar (glucose and fructose) still makes up the majority of pure honey.
“Sugar is sugar and should be treated that way,” said Romano. “There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done to compare sugars and additives, but for people who are trying to get away from table sugar and sugar substitutes such as Stevia or Splenda, a teaspoon or two of natural honey added to unsweetened Greek yogurt, on top of oatmeal, and added to smoothies with berries, greens, and yogurt is a way to use honey that’s porton controlled and not adding extra sugar or calories.”
Image: Dripping honey, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, March 20th, 2014
Kids who crave sweet and salty snacks might not only be drawn in by multicolored products and clever marketing schemes–they may actually be responding to a developmental instinct to ingest energy-boosting foods while they’re doing their most dramatic growth and development. More on a study from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, from NPR.org:
The study included 108 kids, aged 5 to 10, as well as their moms. It turned out that the children who preferred sweet solutions over salty ones tended to be tall for their age. And there was a slight correlation between sweet preference and a biomarker of growth found in the kids’ urine.
Julie Mennella, the study’s lead author and a biopsychologist at Monell, says that scientists have known for a while that kids prefer both sweeter and saltier tastes than adults, and that kids to like sugar and salt. But no one could say exactly why.
This study suggests it has to do with children’s development — kids crave more energy and sugar because they’re growing, Mennella tells The Salt. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, since kids who sought out more calories were probably more likely to survive.
The researchers also looked into children’s’ salt intake, and found that the kids who preferred the saltiest foods tended to have more body fat. Mennella says that kids’ salt cravings might also be related to development, since our bodies associate salt with minerals essential to growth.
But the research, which Monday in the journal PLOS One, only shows that sweet and salty preferences are correlated to growth in children; it can’t show exactly how they’re related. Bigger, longitudinal studies would tell us more, Mennella says.
In the meantime, she says, the study does confirm just how hardwired kids are to consume super-sugary foods — like the candy and cereals that are now so heavily marketed to them. Nowadays, American children consume far and than they actually need.
And the widespread availability of these foods these days makes it easy for kids to overindulge, putting them at risk for obesity and diabetes, she says.
“When you understand the biology of taste, you realize how vulnerable they are to the food environment,” Mennella says.
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Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock
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