Why Added Sugar is Bad For You

Spring sports are here, and as we ease back into some semblance of normalcy, I’ve been out with my children, witnessing children’s interactions and eating habits first hand.

Let me tell you, it is a roller coaster of behavioral patterns and energy levels.


Because added sugar has permeated much of what we eat, including the snacks we give our kids when they hit the field for practice. Added sugars lead to a brief high followed by a long crash, and that’s just the short-term side effects of sugar!

The Prevalence of Added Sugar

Added sugar puts everyone, but especially our kids, at risk of tooth decay, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other health and behavioral problems. [1]

Have you ever noticed that all the sweetest treats and snacks are targeted at children? With images of their favorite cartoon characters or superheroes on the boxes, ‘food’ in fun shapes, and bright, entrancing colors are meant to draw the attention of younger customers, i.e. your children. Even soda brands advertise heavily towards children, making the drinks seem stylish, cool, and fun, and placing ads on channels that are frequented by young audiences.

Of course, it isn’t just children who are feeling the effects of sugar and the increase in added sugar.
According to one study, Americans eat an average of 17 teaspoons worth of added sugar each day. That translates to, wait for it…

57 pounds of added sugar consumed per person each year, and sugar does affect the body. [2]

Effect of Sugar on The Body, The Increasing Rise of Obesity

increase of obesity and added sugarAccording to the most recent information from the CDC, about 18.5% of American children between the ages of 2 and 19 classify as obese. That translates to roughly 1 in 5 children in the United States. [3]

Adults have it even worse, with 44.2% of Americans classifying as obese.[4] However, the habits that lead to that staggering number can start in childhood.

That’s why it’s absolutely essential to set your children up for health success by teaching them healthy eating habits that reduce added sugar intakes.

Why Added Sugar is Bad For You

Thankfully, we aren’t the only ones realizing the dangers of added sugar, it’s, and it is becoming easier to spot on nutrition labels as a result. Today, many foods now list added sugars separately or at least have them listed in the ingredients. Don’t let the different names fool you though!
Added sugar includes white sugar, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey dextrose, fruit juice concentrates, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, invert sugar, turbinado, and ingredients ending in the “-ose” suffix. [5]

Kids are Unknowingly Eating Added Sugars and Sweeteners

sugary drinks juices are not healthyCurrently, children are often consuming far more of these added sugars than they should, and you may not even realize it! A disproportionate amount of added sugars in our children’s diets come from one source: kid’s drinks, “fruit” juices, sodas, juice packs, sports drinks, and just about every other favorite kid’s drink you can think of likely has buckets of added sugar in it.

So, how can you make a change and promote healthy eating habits in your children?

Action Steps You Can Take to Reduce Sugar Intake

Start with reducing added sugar in your child’s diet using these tips:

  1. Aim for less than 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for children 2 years of age and older. Avoid serving food and drinks with added sugar to children under 2 years of age.
  2. Serve water instead of soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, sweetened coffee, or fruit drinks.
  3. Watch out for hidden sources of added sugar in processed food like ketchup, dried cranberries, salad dressing, and baked beans.
  4. Satisfy your child’s sweet tooth with whole fruit.
  5. Limit 100% fruit juice especially. It has more sugar per serving than whole fruit. No more than 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day for children ages 1 through 3 years; 4 to 6 ounces for children ages 4 through 6; and 8 ounces for children ages 7 through 14. Do not give fruit juice to infants under 1 year old.[6]

Sugar Triggers Pleasure Centers of the Brain

For young children especially, this is extremely important. Studies show that sugar triggers the pleasure centers of the brain that are associated with addictive behaviors, and when you start giving this possibly addictive substance, like sugar, to your child young, you may set them up to crave it for the rest of their lives.[7]

Other ways to reduce added sugar intake for your children and for you is to shop organic and natural. Avoid the center of the grocery store, where shelves are filled with pre-packaged and processed options. Instead, stick to the outer edges, where you can usually find fresh produce, meats, dairy products, and other raw ingredients.

By shopping this way, plus preparing meals for yourself instead of eating out, you can make a huge difference in the health of your entire family!

All in all, reducing added sugar intake and promoting health in your children is all about lifestyle. It is a lifestyle of eating added sugars and choosing unhealthy, premade options that lands us in the predicament of weight gain, diabetes and other health concerns. So, the solution is a lifestyle of knowing what you eat and choosing natural, healthy foods to fill the diets of both your children and yourself.

About the Author

Shel Hart CEO MaxLivingShel Hart is the CEO of MaxLiving, where leads our network of 190 chiropractic clinics to help reach more patients so they can impact more lives. He is a proven entrepreneurial leader with demonstrated experience within both public and private companies. Skilled in increasing shareholder value through consistent delivery of incremental, sustainable, predictable and profitable results.



[7] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-016-1229-6