Is Sugar Making Your Child Sick?
Our children consume dangerous amounts of sugar
As parents it is initially our job to set the stage for our children’s good health.
Sugar has become a “tool” to get children to adopt certain behaviors. We use M&Ms or jelly beans for potty training or to acknowledge a good test score or athletic achievement. Such “rewards” then become a habit as the child gets older.
My mother was a sugar addict and she loved her chocolate. Sugar was used for reward, as a treat or to assuage failures. Had a bad day? Have a piece of chocolate to feel better. It was no wonder that I too became a sugar addict.
The latest American Heart Association’s (AHA) guidelines for sugar consumption call for less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, per day for children aged 2 to 18. That would include no more than a 8 ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks per week – yes, that’s less than a regular 12 ounce can of soda…. per week.
Excess sugar linked to the following conditions:
- Tooth decay and gum disease – linked to heart disease later in life
- Risk of obesity
- Risk of type 2 diabetes -one in four teens have pre-diabetes of type 2 diabetes. Teens with diabetes was unheard of just 30 years ago.
- Risk of cancer
- Weakened immune system
- Cold symptoms – runny nose, excess mucus, cough
- Allergy symptoms
- Croup-like symptoms
- Acid reflux
Sugar in infancy is predictor of early obesity
A very interesting report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2017 documented studies that revealed sugar-sweetened beverages in infancy was a predictor of obesity by 6 years of age. So too was not breastfeeding for 12 months a predictor of obesity.
One of the best things you can do for your children is to get them to enjoy drinking water. Some pediatricians recommend about the age of 6 to 12 months when solid food is introduced, you can also start giving 4 to 6 ounces of water to get your child to start enjoying the taste of water.
Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease risk in your children
Why has the AHA decreased sugar limit guidelines? They state that excess added sugar early in life is linked to obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. And those health problems increase the risk of developing heart disease in our young adults.
The World Health Organization agrees, and not just for children. Adults too, they urge, should restrict added sugar to under 5% of calories, or about 6 teaspoons per day.
Despite such recommendations, the truth is children and teens consume more than 3x the recommended allowance– 16% of children’s and teen’s daily calories come from added sugar.
Hint: When reading labels you need to know that 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon.
Sugar increases the risk for disease early in life
According to Dr Jennifer Baidal professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, excess sugar “can lead to hypertension, dyslipidemia [high cholesterol], fatty liver disease and diabetes.”
Allow your children to make food choices, but only offer them healthy options. You’ll be delighted what healthy eaters you’ll create.
Is there a relationship between sugar consumption and degenerative disease?
The answer seems to be a clear affirmative. Even worse, the sugar consumption of our children is putting them at a risk of disease younger and younger.
The World Health Organizations urges us to avoid added sugars in foods, attributing 14 million deaths annually from degenerative diseases to the “sweet monster”.
The sugar and soda industry is not happy about research unveiling the unhealthy threat sugar poses. The director general of a front group, World Sugar Research Organization, was quoted as saying, “Over consumption of anything is harmful, including water and air.” It’s not surprising that the industry wants to protect itself, but to compare the epidemic sugar problem with the over consumption of air is pretty ridiculous, I think you’d agree.
Children have small stomachs that fill quickly
The goal is to fill those tummies with healthy food, not the empty and dangerous calories of sugar.
Our toddlers are consuming on average more than 7 teaspoons of added sugar daily. This exceeds the recommendation for adults.
The data came from a study of 800 children under 2 years of age. 85% of all the toddlers were consuming added sugar on any given day.
As they aged, they tended to consume more added sugar until 99% of the children aged 19 to 23 months were exceeding the adult allowance for added sugar.
If a child is under two, he should ingest no sugar.
Is your child a picky eater?
Picky eaters are a very real situation, but the lack of appetite can come from a variety of sources.
- Filling up on sugary foods with no nutritive value can lessen appetite
- Sugar, creating an imbalance of the good bacteria in the gut, can also cause inflammation and irritation such that a child doesn’t feel hungry but doesn’t really know why.
- There are food sensitivities such as gluten and dairy that can also cause gut irritation and result in picky eaters.
Good news – these are easy conditions to fix. We’ve had many a picky eater become a healthy one with a good appetite.
It sounds odd, but hunger helps
One thing to keep in mind with picky eaters; when you’re very hungry everything tastes better. I’ve always schooled parents in the technique of letting their child miss a meal or two.
Unless there’s a drastic health concern, putting a child to bed without dinner, because they refused to eat it and held a tantrum, will do no harm. What will occur is a very hungry tummy in the morning, more amenable to a healthy breakfast.
Remember, your child takes cues from you. If you want to create a healthy eater, you need to set a good example.
e.g. “Vegetables are delicious”, is what they should hear you say.
Children being drugged unnecessarily
It’s estimated that many children are treated, with medications, for symptoms of allergy, cold, croup and acid reflux, when actually their symptoms are a result of excess sugar.
How does that happen?
According to a pediatric otolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat doctor), too many children are treated for symptoms that have sugar as their underlying cause. I completely agree.
“If we get rid of the symptoms; kids won’t need the medicine,”, Dr Wei explained.
She noticed an interesting association with children drinking chocolate milk throughout the day [or a combination of dairy and sugar]. The children would go to bed seemingly health, but awaken in the middle of the night with a barking cough and trouble breathing, typical croup symptoms.
Dairy and sugar – a “sick” combination
Dr Wei noted that the combination of dairy and sugar is highly acidic and takes a long time to digest. Food can reflux back up the esophagus, touch the vocal cords and cause a spasm, causing a cough and trouble breathing.
Children can be diagnosed with acid reflux and given over the counter medications that block their stomach’s natural acid secretion. The medication can lessen symptoms but, as the pediatrician points out, “We’re not having a whole generation of children who have some rare disease that they’re making more acid than before,” Dr. Wei said. “They are consuming 10 times more acid every single day than they used to.” And this is coming from sugar and dairy products.
Very well said, and it’s exactly what we see here at Root Cause in children and adults as well. Sugar is very acid-forming and it is creating avoidable symptoms. Dairy products, as the doctor mentioned, along with many animal-based foods are also acid producing, which creates long-term health problems.
Excess acid production can be addressed naturally through dietary change; your child (nor you) should require medication when the correct root cause is identified.
Sugar weakens the immune system
Sugar is a known to weaken the immune system. Studies reveal up to a 50% decreased ability of the white blood cells to destroy bacteria and kill germs after consuming refined sugar. Such a suppression can last up to 5 hours. If you child is eating sugar at most meals; their immune system is constantly suppressed.
Complex carbohydrates found in whole fruit, grains, and beans does not have this negative effect on the immune system. Complex carbohydrates are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and their unrefined nature have them metabolized in a slow, healthy way, unlike added sugars and processed simple carbs which contain no nutritional value, are stripped of all fiber and enter your bloodstream like a freight train.
Fortunately, my children rarely became ill, but when they did they knew that zero sugar was coming their way until they were well again.
We taught them that sugar “feeds the bad bugs” and while it was easy to understand explanation for a child, it’s factually true. Bacteria, yeast, and all inhospitable organisms love sugar, so the last thing you want to do is feed them.
Kids love sugar, but is it worth the price?
I hope this blog gives you information you can use that will positively affect the lives of your children, grandchildren and neighbors. Or perhaps you work with children and this data is valuable in that regard.
We all love sugar, there’s no argument. But is it worth the obesity, weakened immune system and risk of early degenerative disease? Nothing is that good. At least that’s my opinion.
Would you like your children to be healthier?
Is your child’s health is not where it should be? Let’s change that.
As a parent it can be very frustrating to see your children suffering and not know what to do for them. The good news; children couldn’t be easier to help. Their young bodies are strong and resilient and very easy to “fix”.
We’ve had several decades of experience and would be delighted to help.
If you’d like assistance give us a call.
Contact us for a Free Consultation – Call (408) 733-0400.
If you are not local to us your child can still receive help; our Destination Clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally.
We help the world’s busiest people regain, retain and reclaim their health, energy and resilience.
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To reclaiming your best health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the e-Books:
- “Gluten: What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You”
- “5 Simple Ways to Regain Your Health”
- “Hiatal Hernia, Many Symptoms, One Cause”