Reducing your family’s sugar intake

Keeping an eye on your family's diet can keep everyone healthy.

We know that added sugar intake has been linked to dental cavities, obesity to type 2 diabetes and heart disease among other health conditions into adulthood. We can easily switch cookies and sugar pops to fruits and water, it is much harder to track added sugars to our foods and drinks.

When we read food labels, sugars can be found under many different names. Some of these can be labeled from at least 50 different names. Some examples that may be common would be cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, raw sugar and crystal solids. Also included may be brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and brown rice syrup. 

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults should have no more than 10 percent of sugar in there 2000 daily calorie diet (that’s 10 tsp). Growing children should have much less under their 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day. We need to focus on reducing added sugars by limiting products that contain them. 

We can easily see them in sugar drinks, such as sodas, fruit punch, sweet coffees, teas and energy drinks. There are other sugars that it is not as noticeable, but we need to read the labels.

Check out the sugar content in cereals, instant oatmeal, frozen foods and pasta sauces. Also check out granola, protein and cereal bars. You can also find a lot of sugar in dried fruit, canned fruit, applesauce and fruit juices, baby food, barbecue sauce, salad dressing and ketchup. 

As you can see there is a lot of added sugars that are in our package foods that we would not think was there. We think that we are eating healthy until we read the sugar count on the labels. A lot of fruits and vegetables have a natural sweetness to them. The best way to stay away from added sugars is to go back to cooking from scratch. Not only do we cut out the sugar, but we cutting the cost of foods. Try to have the family shop with you and have them read the labels for the sugar content, they will be surprised. Next, have them hit the fruit and vegetable section and let them pick out the natural sweet foods.

For more information on balancing your family’s nutrition, visit Michigan State University Extension.

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