How much sugar can a child eat a day

How much sugar can a child eat a day?

If you want to know how much sugar your child can take per day and how to count what he already takes, read on

How much sugar can a child eat a day? The objective of this post is to know the maximum amount of sugar that a child can take and analyze the one they already take. Of course, I will give you the keys to change that and accept a new diet without added sugar. So let’s go in parts.

How much sugar can a child eat a day

Table of Contents

  • 1 Recommendations for sugar consumption
    • 1.1 Types of Sugars
  • 2 How much sugar does my child eat each day?
    • 2.1 Let’s analyze an example
  • 3 How to correct your child’s sugar intake
    • 3.1 Counting your child’s daily sugar
    • 3.2 Replace sugar with healthy alternatives

Recommendations for sugar consumption

The recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) say, and I quote:

  • “The WHO recommends a reduced intake of free sugars throughout life.”
  • “In both adults and children, the WHO recommends reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of the total caloric intake.”
  • “WHO suggests that free sugar intake be further reduced to less than 5% of total caloric intake.”

Also makes a point that it seems important to note: “Free sugars include monosaccharides and added disaccharides to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, the fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates ”. I think this observation is relevant since it specifies what we mean by free and therefore harmful sugars, ergo to reduce and moderate their consumption.

Types of Sugars

You may be confused: free sugars? What is that? Let’s look at the different types of sugars before continuing.

  • Free sugar: These are those sugars that have been released from the food matrix, that  are loose or those that have been intentionally added. The table sugar that you add to coffee is an example of free sugar. They are the sugars that the WHO tells us about.
  • Added sugar: It is the one that you add yourself, the industry or the cook. All added sugars are free sugars.
  • Intrinsic sugar: It is the sugar typical of food, fruit, vegetables … when it is attached to its food matrix. Reason why it is not considered harmful, because due to being attached to that matrix (vitamins, minerals, fiber …) the absorption is slow and adequate and does not pose a risk to our health.

If you still have doubts about it, you can watch the video on Youtube where I explain the difference between sugars in detail.

Returning to these recommendations, we see that it indicates “less than 10% of the total caloric intake”. This means that a person who consumes 2000kcal could take a maximum of 50 grams of free sugar per day. And ideally, it should take a maximum of 25 grams.

I want to make it clear that we are talking about the maximum recommended, so in no case is it recommended to take free sugar, only that if it is taken, it is recommended not to exceed that 10% but we should never try to take free sugar.

But today I have come to talk about children, and children do not usually consume 2000 calories a day. So let’s take about 1000 on average (being generous). So the end result is a maximum of 25 grams per day and ideally less than 12.5 grams. Also bearing in mind that we are talking about children from the age of 2, the age at which they should not have taken a single gram of this type of sugar yet.

How much sugar does my child eat each day?

To know how much sugar you take per day, you only have to look at the product label, but first you must know how to interpret it. As it is something extensive, we are going to focus only on the part that concerns us today: sugar. Therefore, when we look at a label, we will look in its list of ingredients for the word “sugar” or any of its synonyms: dextrose (or any name ending in -ose), molasses, syrup, honey … And in the table of nutritional values ​​we we will look at the section that says “carbohydrates of which sugars ” to know the amount.

As we have seen, free (and added) sugars are what we must watch out for and the bad thing is that the labeling does not distinguish intrinsic sugar from added sugar. But don’t worry, because we have a little trick to find out. When you want to know the amount of added sugar in a product, you just have to look at its natural or “sugar-free” reference. I give you an example so that you understand it better:

  • Milk has natural (intrinsic) sugars, which in this case is lactose.
  • Milk is used to make yoghurts, natural (which usually have between 4 and 5 grams of sugar) and flavors (which usually have between 15 and 16 grams of sugar).
  • If I wanted to know how much sugar is in the strawberry yogurt that I give my son every morning, I would have to look at the amount of sugar indicated on the nutritional table and subtract the amount of it in the natural version. The approximate result should give you about 10-12 grams.

I also tell you that if you want to simplify, you can take the total value, because normally the intrinsic sugars, in addition to being healthy, are in few quantities, that is, most of them are added. In the case of products that do not have ingredients with intrinsic sugars, they will all be added sugars, as in the case of soluble cocoas.

Beware of traps ! Let’s read the labels well , for in the case of soluble products we can find the values ​​per preparation! It is something legal, of course, but from my point of view it is to take advantage and confuse the consumer. An example would be the following soluble cocoa:

In this case we see how it tells us “average nutritional information of the prepared product” and below “recommended serving per cup: 14 g soluble cocoa + 200 mL semi-skimmed milk”. So the total amount of sugars on the label includes those of cocoa and those of milk, which seems like a puzzle to guess how much is cocoa.

In this case, we should go to semi-skimmed milk to see how many sugars it has, subtract them from the 19 on this label and the result will be the grams of sugar in 14 grams of soluble cocoa product. Hence a rule of 3 to know how much sugar per 100 grams. Something that few people will stop to do, something that will confuse the consumer and something that, for me, is cheating. If we do the calculations:

100 grams of semi-skimmed milk has an average of 4.8 grams of sugar, so that in 200 grams of milk there will be 9.6 grams.

19 grams of sugar in the preparation (14g of cocoa + 200 g of semi-milk) – 9.6 grams of milk = 9.4 grams of sugar from soluble cocoa.

If 14 grams of product have 9.4 grams of sugar, 100 grams of product will have 67 grams of sugar.

In summary, that this soluble cocoa is 70% sugar in its composition. But no one is going to do math in the middle of the supermarket, so I see 9 grams, I think it’s fine (it does not exceed the maximum reference 10 grams on the labels) and I buy it. Also thinking that I am consuming a finally! healthy product with little sugar.

Let’s analyze an example

Let’s say that our son drinks in one day , (I take as a source and reference of amounts of sugar to sinazú , a website that I highly recommend, by the way):

  • Breakfast: glass of milk with colacao (40 grams) and 6 Maria type cookies. If we count the added sugar of this breakfast, we would have 28 grams of the colacao + 9 grams of the cookies, a total of 37 grams of sugar. Notice, I have not accounted for the milk sugar (lactose) since it is an intrinsic sugar, naturally present.
  • Mid-morning (recess): individual packet of cookies + juice brick. This is 8.4 + 23.6 = 32 grams of free sugar.
  • Food: I will be generous, and we will not count the fried tomato, sugary drinks or dairy desserts (among others) that the child is likely to eat.
  • Snack: Soy and chocolate drink + sandwich. We only count the sugar in the drink
  • Dinner: I will be generous, and we will not count the fried tomato, sugary drinks or dairy desserts (among others) that the child is likely to eat.

With this example and being generous since as you can see, I assume that he drinks water and not any soft drink at lunch and dinner, that he has fruit for dessert and that there is no product with added sugar such as commercial tomatoes, the child is taking 87, 6 grams of sugar in a day . 350.4% of the recommended intake! It is really alarming.

You can see the analysis of some breakfasts in this video:

How to correct your child’s sugar intake

As you can see, it is not something insignificant, we are talking about taking more than 3 times the recommended amount, every day! And I insist without taking into account weekends, refreshments. So it is clear that we must do something. Here you have to put your hand and improve your diet . To do this, I propose two things:

Counting your child’s daily sugar

Surely you are thinking “sure, but that’s an exaggerated example (I’m telling you no), my son doesn’t eat like that.” It is a very common thought, which is why I encourage you to count the one your child takes. And you should write down all the sugar you take from any product, even if you don’t think it contains sugar.

If it is not raw material, look at the label and write down. You should write down the amount it takes, not the amount per 100 grams. That is, if you are going to have a glass of drinkable yogurt, do not write down the 12 grams it has per 100, write down 24g which is what you are taking.

In the same way, if you take 40 grams of cereals, do not write down 35 grams of sugar that have 100 grams, you will write down 14 grams that have the 40 grams that you are taking (for the calculation, you only need a rule of three).

To help you, I have developed the sugar measurer , a tool that will make your work easier.

How is it used? You only have to paint the grids based on the amount of sugar the person has taken in the day. In the title you must put the child’s name and at the end the prize or reward for not exceeding 25 grams per day in a week.

Of course the prize cannot be related to food. It should be something like going to the amusement park, meeting a friend to play, having a friend come to sleep on Saturday. We are rewarding for good behavior, not for food.

Another way to use it is, instead of shading the grids, is to write the product that has filled them. I leave you a sample with the example that we have used before. Monday would be with shading, Tuesday writing the products:


As you can see, it is very easy to fill in and at a glance we can already know if you have done it well or not, depending on the color you have reached, following the chronology of a traffic light.

Substitute healthy alternatives for sugar

It is clear that if we are going to remove products, we have to give them alternatives . Therefore, the second thing I propose is to offer you a healthy alternative in return.

As always, this change should be progressive and if possible, agreeing with him. So here is a list of healthy breakfast, snack and snack options that you can combine as you both like best:

  • Cereals without sugar such as corn flakes, puffed quinoa, puffed millet, oat flakes, spelled flakes, you can prepare them with milk, with milk and 100% soluble cocoa, with a yogurt and some fruits, with a yogurt and some seeds or nibs cocoa.
  • Brown rice cakes or oatmeal or whole wheat biscuits or real whole wheat bread with oil and tomato, with nut creams, with tahini, with avocado, with chicken breast.
  • As drinks: whole milk, unflavored vegetable drinks, which can be seasoned with cinnamon or 100% soluble cocoa.
  • As snacks: whole grains with cheese, fruit, nuts, natural yogurts, whole milk bricks.

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