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Moms Talk: How Much Sugar Should Kids Get?

Parents, join the online conversation.

Do you believe sugar gives kids a sugar high? Or do you insist that's a myth?

Some parents limit how much soda, candy and ice cream their children eat, while others shrug, knowing they'll get sugar at school, at friends' houses, and in unlikely places--like salad dressing.

What's your take? Do you refuse to buy candy bars?  Try to dole out sweets in moderation? Or simply give up?

Scroll down to the comments section and tell us your opinion. 

Scott K April 20, 2011 at 11:56 AM
Do I believe in the sugar high? I always considered it a given. Heck, *I* get a sugar high. But to answer the Q, yes. Absolutely. In the case of my son, it's like winding up the spring too tight and letting the toy go. To make a pop reference, think of that little ball thing that Will Smith accidentally released that flew throughout the offices in the movie "Men In Black". That's my son after a candy bar. The Spouses' best friend is a chemist at Coca-cola--so, we've learned enough to not allow soda yet. We cut the intake of juice-sugar by simply doing a half-water mix with just about everything they drink. Do we allow candy? Yep. But in moderation. We just ran out of our halloween candy from last year and we do have dessert pretty much every night. Sometimes a pluck from the candy bin, sometimes yogurt, other times fruit. As for the other places they can get sugar? Well, they know the rules. And we've talked to them in simple terms about the bad effects of too much sugar. We've had more than one discussion about foods and candy they've been offered and had to make choices on. For my money, giving them some freedom to make decisions and choices with something relatively innocuous is good practice for the Big Things. Scott K. NPMC
Sherrone April 20, 2011 at 05:05 PM
I don't know if it's the excitement that goes along with most of the times that kids get a lot of sugar, or the sugar itself, but I do believe that my kids get extra hyper when they have sugar. I also have been witness to a great many "crashes" after that sugar high. That's when kids get tired and cranky. It's hard to believe that it is good, or necessary to subject them (or ourselves!) to that too often. I think that, whether you believe in a sugar high or not, though, it is important not to let kids have too much sugar. It should be a special treat and not a given that they will have it all the time. If kids have sugar too often, they get used to it and start to crave it, or want it all the time. We already know that the more sugar we eat, the heavier we get, too. So, I think it's good for kids to identify some healthy things (such as grapes or watermelon) as tasty things to have when they want something sweet. I'm not saying that kids should never have sugar, but I definitely believe that the amount should be minimal and that healthy alternatives should be offered more frequently. ---Sherrone, NPMC
Kathy Ruhnke April 20, 2011 at 05:18 PM
We're going on the assumption that too much sugar = hyper kids. And my daughter - who is in perpetual motion all the time - doesn't need any extra fuel in her tank. We let her have sugar (candy, cookies, etc) in moderation. I think forbidding sweets outright creates an unhealthy relationship for kids. When they encounter sugary snacks elsewhere, they're probably going to binge...and maybe start hoarding them. (I remember one mom from park district classes who told me she didn't allow her daughter to have any sweets for her daughter, including Halloween candy; how sad, I thought). Like Scott, we're trying to limit my child's juice intake; when I can, I stock up on Trader Joe's juice boxes that have half the sugar. And I'm going to try to hold the line on two things, for as long as possible: no sugary breakfast cereals (which may as well be candy) and no soda. In both cases, I want better nutritional choices for her.
Monica B. April 20, 2011 at 05:52 PM
When I was growing up, we had water and milk as our beverage choices. Juice and pop were always treats for us. As an adult, I don't care for juice but I do fine in the diet soda department. I have basically done the same with my children, milk for breakfast and water for lunch and dinner. Occassionally, maybe twice or three times a month they would get pop - normally caffeine free. Now as my children are older, they prefer water and for them coffee is a treat. If possible, my 14 year old would drink pop all the time, so I don't keep it at home very often. Sweets for snacks are occasional, in moderation. The more we have it at home though, the greater the temptation for all of us. I do try to buy the lower sugar items - cereal/oatmeal. I do encourage the healthier snack, but as they go to friend's houses, etc. I can see their choices aren't so great. When I do have sweets at home, they just aim for them (I swear they can sniff out the chocolate). I am usually the one that says no, and Grandpa is the one who sneaks it to them. Though we usually try to keep some fresh fruit cut up and ready on the kitchen table for us all to nibble on. An ongoing challenge...
Tricia Williams April 21, 2011 at 12:12 AM
As others have commented, everything in moderation is a good way to go. When my kids were little, we would have dessert most nights after dinner. Dessert was not always something sugary like brownies or cake but could be fruit or something sweet but healthy. We never had soda much when my kids were young and they still don't drink very much soda now. With the rise in childhood obesity and diabetes, I think it warrants using caution. And sugar is not the only ingredient to watch for...there is also corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup both of which are in many foods that you might not expect them to be in.

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