Most people will have been horrified by the recent news that rotting teeth is the biggest cause of primary school children being hospitalised – and dentists are increasingly removing children’s teeth due to decay. Diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses are also on the rise and affecting our kids so there’s no better time to take action on the amount of sugary drinks and processed foods we consume.
With fizzy drinks such as Coca-Cola and Fanta being demonized in the media due to their sugar content (9 teaspoons per can), many mothers have been giving their children fruity juices and smoothies – based on the assumption these are ‘healthy’ – and have been looking for drinks which seem to be based more on fruit or water.
My kids like the fruity-flavoured J20 drinks, but on closer inspection they contain 4-5 teaspoons of sugar per bottle.
In fact, many flavoured waters such as Volvic contain 3-4 teaspoons of sugar per bottle.
Even a 200ml glass of orange juice contains 5 teaspoons of sugar – and some smoothies can contain many more. Just because it is called ‘natural fruit sugar’ doesn’t mean it is any healthier.
And that’s just drinks – what about hidden sugars in other products? Around 80% of processed food contains hidden sugar.
Sometimes manufacturers will replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, which is especially common in diet food and drink. Whilst sweeteners may possibly be healthier than sugar – and some even protect against tooth decay, we do not really know the long-term effects of sweeteners in increasing quantities on young children – and I am not planning to use my own kids to find out. And they do nothing to reduce our desire for that sugary fix.
Instead, I believe, we need to reduce our sweet tooth overall – with government and industry working as one to do this, as was done with salt.
If we slowly reduce our need for that intense sweetness, we can reduce our sugar intake without really noticing – and without the use of chemicals.
Best of all, let’s go back to eating real, not processed food and drink – where we don’t have to worry about hidden sugar.
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