Most Parents Don’t Know How Much Sugar Their Kids Really Eat, Study Finds


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If someone asked you, “How much sugar does your kid eat?”—do you think you’d know the real answer? According to new research, you might not. A recent study shows that parents aren’t always adept at knowing how much sugar is in the foods that their kids eat.

Sugar consumption is believed to be one of the leading factors of childhood obesity, which is why in 2015 the World Health Organization recommended that everyone—kids and adults—should limit their daily sugar intake to less than 10 percent of all calories consumed. For kids this equates to about 45 grams of sugar a day. However, it isn’t always easy to determine how much sugar is in the food we eat.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin surveyed 305 German families with at least one child between the ages of 6 and 12. They measured the body mass index of the kids and had parents complete a quiz asking them to estimate sugar content in specific foods.

According to the study published in the International Journal of Obesity, parents often underestimate how much sugar is in certain foods that kids regularly eat that they don’t automatically equate with sweets, like pizza and ketchup. About three quarters of the parents underestimated the sugar content, with seemingly healthier foods being more highly underestimated.

The sugar content of yogurt, for example, was underestimated by 92 percent of parents—by 21 grams on average. The highest BMI measurements in the kids was associated with the parents who underestimated sugar content the most, suggesting that sugar intake could be related to weight gain.

The study’s authors believe the “findings suggest that providing easily accessible and practicable knowledge about sugar content through, for instance, nutritional labeling may improve parents’ intuition about sugar.”

Not sure about how much sugar might be hiding in your food? This chart from breaks down all the surprising amounts of sugar are in everyday foods—even those you might not realize have sugar in them:

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured Photo: civilhetes via Pixabay 


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