In our modern world, processed foods and hidden sugar has unfortunately become a staple in most households. One of the growing concerns of the World Health Organization (WHO) is the increase in the amount of sugar introduced into the diet of infants.
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Processed foods and sugar
Sweetness is the main and integral component of many products. Sugar exists in many forms, from crystals to powder, syrups, etc. In fact, most human sugar daily dose of sugar comes from processed foods. Some sources of hidden sugar are pasta sauces, yogurts and sauces, etc.
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The WHO study found that the main offenders were pureed commercial products such as juices, yogurts and desserts. In these products, sugar, sweeteners, or concentrated fruit juice are listed simply as ingredients, while claiming to contain no added sugar, contradicting the sugar intake that those ingredients affect. Ideally, such products should not be marketed to infants, as repeated by the WHO.
According to WHO, 30 percent of the calories found in most baby food on the market derived from sugar. Experts believe that when children are offered sugary foods at an early age, they may develop a sweet tooth, which can lead to unhealthy cravings. craving for sugar during the day. A diet high in sugar in infants and toddlers can lead to health problems later in life, such as diabetes as well as hypertension.
WHO continues to recommend full breastfeeding for babies up to six months. This may not be possible for all mothers and babies. Many children are fed formula or other baby food to meet the nutritional needs of the child. The high sugar content of these baby foods allows babies to develop a sweet tooth long before their first teeth appear.
A 2015 study by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California found that 74% of samples of infant formula, breakfast cereals, yogurt, etc. were high in sugar. while the calorie content of sugar is almost 20 percent of its calories.
Other studies in the United States published by the American Academy of Pediatrics have shown that mashed cereals and fruits for children contain 35 percent of calories derived from sugar.
Other pitfalls of early sugar introduction
More and more baby food products continue to hit the markets, each trying to stand out and satisfy the insecurities of new parents. Children are born with sweet toothBecause breast milk is slightly sweet, it is necessary to introduce other flavors in the first year of life. Most nutritionists recommend single-ingredient foods when babies are under six months old. The taste preferences of the baby are formed and fixed in the first year of life; therefore, it is important to start with individual ingredients. It is important that you do not mix fruits and vegetables because it teaches your child that vegetables are only delicious when they are sweetened. This can lead to a lifelong addiction to sugary foods.
When can children eat sugar?
Although it is considered safe to add sugar after 12 months, it is very beneficial to increase this limit to 2 years. This includes not only sugar, but also other natural sweeteners such as agave syrup, honey, date syrup, corn syrup, caramel, maple syrup, etc. If you need to sweeten baby food, add fruit to it. It is best to avoid any sweeteners for children between the ages of six and 12 months.
In excess, sugar and sweeteners reduce the variety of your child’s palette, thus reducing the number of foods he is interested in. Drinks such as fruit juices Absolutely not for children under one year old. They should be given whole fruits, which will also give them fiber. They can be offered water or unsweetened milk like a drink. Artificial sweeteners such as stevia are not recommended for children under two years of age, as information on their effects is scarce. Babies are rarely allergic to sugar.
Every baby develops on their own schedule, and you may need to consult with your pediatrician about when and how to start complementary foods for your baby. It also depends on how the child develops in relation to gross and fine motor skills.
Between 12 and 24 months of age, if possible, consider waiting before introducing your child to sugar, as exposure to sugar will cause the child to be less interested in trying other food groups.
Over the age of two, when you introduce sugar into their diet, try to do it gradually and smoothly, without drawing undue attention to sugary foods. Don’t offer dessert as a reward for completing a meal. The goal is to have a healthy and guilt-free relationship with food and, at the same time, eat nutritious food.
Get back in the saddle
Reducing added sugar is not as easy as we professionals often think. In fact, this may not be feasible for many people with limited resources, as access to healthy food may be limited or more expensive. So don’t try to make all the changes at once with your child. Remember that giving up a healthy habit is normal, it is important to return to it again.
(Dr. Saroja Balan is Consultant Neonatologist and Pediatrician at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. Her column is published every two weeks)
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