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  • Pinay Pediatrician Shares 5 'Sweet Ways' To Manage Your Child's Sugar Intake

    We all know sugar in excess is bad, but we can't always avoid it.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Pinay Pediatrician Shares 5 'Sweet Ways' To Manage Your Child's Sugar Intake
PHOTO BY iStock
  • ‘How much sugar should we have?’ is a topic that never gets old and, understandably so. It concerns all of us, especially our kids. It was only in recent years that experts have raised the alarm about the link between sugar and childhood obesity among kids so much so that sugar — especially free sugar — has been labeled as the “new tobacco.”

    While debates from all sides have emerged, we generally agree that sugar in excess is bad. However, the issue for most parents is not how much sugar should their child have but the smart ways to control their kids’ intake.

    Let’s admit it, most kids seem to have a predisposition to sweets like chocolates, bread, candies, and sugary drinks. In the latest series of Smart Parenting’s Masterclass Toddler Expertips, titled, “EAT: Make Your Child’s Nutrition A Priority,” pediatrician Jen Olay, M.D., assures parents there are ‘sweet ways to lower your child’s sugar intake.’

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    How much sugar in a day for kids 

    In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a new (but conditional) guideline, reducing the recommended intake of sugar in a day from 10% (50g or 12 teaspoons) to 5% (25g or 6 teaspoons). The guideline only referred to free sugars or sugar added to food and drinks by manufacturers, cooks, and consumers.

    “Pag sinabi po nating sugar, they are carbohydrates together with your starch. Ang general term is carbohydrates, but we commonly call them sugar,” clarifies Dr. Olay.

    “Di po ba pag nagdi-diet tayo ang una nating tinatanggal ay sugar pero sa mga growing up kids ito po ay isa sa mga macronutrients. Kailangan nila ito because it boosts energy. (Macronutrients) ang pinakafuel nila,” she says.

    Dr. Olay proceeds to give classic examples of good carbohydrates, which are sugars naturally found in fruits and vegetables, while bad carbs cover food with free sugars, the kind often used in cakes, juices, and other desserts. “They are high in calories but low in nutrients, in fiber and high in sodium,” elaborates Dr. Olay. When kids are given food with too much free sugar, they may be prone to poor bone health and metabolic and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, she adds.

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    How to manage your child’s sugar intake

    Dr. Olay shares simple tips to navigate our way around kids’ sweet tooth, but what makes them powerful is the added science to it. It’s just a matter of understanding how sugar affects our children’s health and continually making the right choices no matter how great the temptation is to reach out for that nicely packaged juice drink or candy to make our little ones happy.

    1. Limit sugary drinks to 6-8 ounces or 240 ml.

    Given that the maximum recommended amount of sugar in a day by WHO is 12 teaspoons, Dr. Olay says a 330-ml of soft drink already contains 8.5 teaspoons.“Isang inuman lang po yun, so ibig sabihin dapat yung susunod mong iinumin wala nang sugar,” she argues.Citing the data from WHO, she adds that yogurt drinks, a favorite pabaon for kids, can contain as high as 70 teaspoons of sugar. Her advice is always to read the label.

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    2. Go fresh and limit processed pre-packed food.

    In her clinic, Dr. Olay narrates that many moms often complain that their child would only eat processed foods like luncheon meat, hotdog, tocino, or bacon.“Sabi ko, ‘sino po ba ang laging bumibili ng hotdog at tocino?’ Wag po kayong bumili para di nila kainin,” she says.The simple rule of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ goes a long way. Whatever parents prepare is what the child will most likely eat.

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    3. Satisfy your child’s sweet tooth with whole fruits.

    Instead of fruit juices, just give your kid the real deal like apples, oranges, grapes, etc.

    4. Give either water and/or milk.

    These are the only two beverages that Dr. Olay tells parents to include in their child’s baon. She says the principal carbohydrate of milk, including breast milk, is lactose, a healthy sugar. Lactose has glucose and galactose, which are both monosaccharides that help fuel the brain. She warns against giving milk that contains sucrose, the sweetest among all sugars, and also the culprit in many non-communicable diseases.

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    5. Know that lactose in milk is an excellent prebiotic agent.

    Prebiotic can be used as a source of energy by good bacteria. “Importante pong panatilihin na maraming good bacteria [sa tiyan].” Prebiotics supports brain function and the immune system, promotes wound healing, and cellular communication.

    Quoting WHO, Dr. Olay closes her talk by reminding parents that the bottom line is to reduce free sugar intake at any stage in life — whether we’re dealing with kids or adults.

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