All you need to know about sugar

Sugary foods image

Kids love sweet things, so getting them to eat less sugar is tricky. Plus, with sugar hidden in so many everyday foods and drinks, it can be hard to know what's healthy and what's not.

However, it's important we do our best, because sugar isn't just bad for kids' teeth. In the long run it can also lead to more serious issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. But there are lots of easy and simple ways you can help reduce the amount of sugar your kid has.

What's the maximum amount of sugar we can have?

A typical 8 year old shouldn't have more than 5 teaspoons of added* sugar per day.

Age: 4-6

Maximum recommended added sugar intake per day:

19 grams

Equal to:

4 teaspoons

Age: 7-10

Maximum recommended added sugar intake per day:

24 grams

Equal to:

5 teaspoons

Age: 11+

Maximum recommended added sugar intake per day:

30 grams

Equal to:

6 teaspoons

* The main thing you need to avoid is added sugar. This is extra sugar that manufacturers add to sweeten food. It doesn't include the natural sugars you find in dairy, fruit and veg - this sugar is OK. Watch out for words manufacturers put on labels that actually mean added sugar: cane sugar, honey, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, glucose, crystalline sucrose and nectars. Try to go for products with 'no added sugar'.

Sugar watch!

These sugary snacks contain more than the maximum daily amount recommended for an 8 year old.

7 teaspoons

of sugar

in 1 can of fizzy drink

5 teaspoons

of sugar

in 1 sweet muffin

8 teaspoons

of sugar

in 1 bowl of ice cream

Sugar swaps

Here are some simple swaps to help your kids eat less sugar. These may seem like big changes to make all in one go so you can always try introducing the swaps gradually to ease your family into a healthier diet.

1. Sugary Drinks

These make up a quarter of children's added sugar intake and be the first thing to go from your child's daily diet. Swap fizzy juice, squashes, cordials and energy drinks for water, lower-fat milk, diet, sugar free or no added sugar drinks. You could try adding your kids' favourite fruit to water to make their very own flavoured water.

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2. Breakfast Swap

Swap sugary cereals for plain porridge (or porridge with fruit), plain wholewheat biscuits or plain shredded wholegrain. Find lots of healthy breakfast ideas here.

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3. Snack Swap

Swap sweets, biscuits, chocolates, cakes, muffins and pastries for fresh or tinned fruit (in juice not syrup), plain unsalted nuts, plain rice cakes or toast with low-fat spread. Find more simple swap ideas here.

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4. Pudding Swap

Sugary puds are tasty but so are low-fat, low-sugar yoghurts, fresh or tinned fruits (in juice, not syrup), fruit salads and sugar-free jellies. Try our delicious Fruit in Jelly recipe.

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Important!

5 a day

Fresh, frozen, tinned, juiced and dried fruit and veg all count. Only one of the 5 should be a fruity drink.

Fibre

Kids need wholegrains (e.g. wholegrain cereals) as well as fruit and veg to keep up their fibre levels.

Food labels

When shopping, go for items that have more green and amber nutrition labels than red. More info about labelling here.