Sunday, May 24, 2009

Are you giving your child too much sugar?

I'm a big believer in all things in moderation, and that includes cookies and sugary treats. But how do you make sure you're keeping sugar under control when it's, well, everywhere?

While researching a post for Child Caring, I came across some scary stats:
Certain breakfast cereals, for example, contain as much as 50 percent sugar and have little to no fiber. According to Consumer Reports, a single serving of Kellogg's Honey Smacks contains more sugar than a glazed doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts. (Wondering which are the worst cereals out there? Here's a list.)

Sometimes, it isn't so obvious: Have you looked at the label for your favorite bread? How about spaghetti sauce? "All natural" juice products? Chances are, you'll see some form of sugar high up on the list.

I'm lucky: My 4-year-old will happily eat her weight in melon and apples. Of course, that might not be much better -- some experts think that even naturally sweet treats can set children up with bad eating habits -- but if she asks for a treat in her lunchbox, I'll slip in a meringue or an Oreo, because 90 percent of the time, it comes back home at the end of the day -- she doesn't want to eat it, necessarily, she just wants to have it.

(This kind of thing tends to infuriate many parents, by the way -- especially ones with kids who are too young to pitch their carefully packed, wholesome lunch in the trash and pick whatever high-fructose-corn-syrup-filled thing they want from a vending machine instead. Just wait... it happens.)

What do you think? Is it a case of helicopter parenting in the kitchen? Or do kids simply have too much sugar in their diets?

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