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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” This is a not only a national epidemic, it is a global issue as well. The current U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has stated that our obesity epidemic is the leading cause of disease and death in this country and the world today. The statistics are staggering. The CDC also reports, “In 2012, more than one-third of our children were overweight or obese.” Those are alarming statistics, to say the least. We know that those who are obese as children are twice as likely to be obese as adults. We also know that sugar intake and refined and processed foods are highly correlated to obesity. The American Heart Association (AHA) recently published their recommendation of added sugar limits for children and it is the same for women.

The AHA added sugar recommendations are:

No more than 100 calories per day for children and women = 25 grams or six teaspoons

No more than 150 calories per day for men = 36 grams of added sugar or nine teaspoons

Added sugars are found listed on the ingredient panel of many processed foods. They come in many forms and they look like this:

Sugar, Sugar Beets, Cane Sugar, Agave syrup, Honey, Brown sugar, Brown Rice Syrup, Cane juice and Cane syrup, Maltose, Confectioners’ sugar, Corn sweetener and corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, Dextrose, Fructose, Fruit juice concentrates, just to name a few.

What you can do:

Know that there are 4.2 grams of sugar in a teaspoon and do the math. You can see how many grams of sugar is in a food per serving by reading the food label. A 20 oz. Coke®, for example, contains 65 grams of sugar—that is 15 teaspoons of added sugar! If the ingredient panel doesn’t have “added sugars” listed, and the food label does have sugar grams listed, then you will know that those grams of sugar are “naturally occurring.” An example of that would be a can of tomato sauce where tomatoes are the only ingredient and the food panel says it has 3 grams of sugar (per serving).

What you get in an apple is 18 grams of naturally occurring sugar (as opposed to “added” sugar) and also health-giving vitamins, mineral, phytochemicals, fiber and the power of that whole food that you will never find in a processed food…I do not care what the food label TRIES to tell you!  Choose real and whole food.  Protect our children from future disease.  We are the adults, and we must lead them to good health.

  1. CDC. Childhood Obesity Facts. Retrieved from September 20, 2016.
  2. CDC. Childhood Obesity Facts. Retrieved from September 20, 2016.


By: Kathryn Scoblick

St. David’s HealthCare

Director of Employer Health and Wellness

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