Is sugar bad for children? What about sugar substitutes?
Sugar has a bad reputation. Yet we are all born with a liking for sweet taste. In moderation, sugar can make foods taste better. But in excess, sugar contributes calories and no important nutrients. It can also cause tooth decay. However, sugar has never been proven to cause or worsen hyperactivity. It’s important not to make sugar (or any food) the “forbidden fruit.” Think of sugar the way Mary Poppins did--a spoonful helps the medicine go down. In other words, syrup on a pancake, helps the pancake go down. Chocolate syrup in milk, helps the milk go down. As a rule of thumb, look for breakfast cereals with no more than 8 grams of sugar per serving. Sugar substitutes are only recommended for children who cannot metabolize sugar (diabetics).
Review Making Mealtime Pleasant with Young Children for more information.
Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D.,
Nutritional Sciences Specialist, University of Missouri
Last update: Friday, February 06, 2009