How much sugar? Kids are clueless about food, says research

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Children underestimate how much sugar is in their food and drinks by HALF.

A behavioural experiment revealed kids have no idea just how much sugar they’re having, significantly underestimating how many sugar cubes are in their food.

Youngsters were asked how much of the sweetener was in a bowl of instant porridge, a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of fizzy pop.

They guessed each item contained between two and six cubes of sugar – which averaged roughly HALF the amount of sugar found in the products.

The experiment, led by Arla Explorers to launch its new range of kid’s reduced sugar yoghurts, also captured the moment children were stunned to realise a fizzy drink contains as much as 10 cubes of sugar, with most believing it was just five.

It comes after research found children will consume 156 cans of fizzy drink, 208 bags of sweets and 260 biscuits every year – adding up to the equivalent of nearly 23,000g of the white stuff.

The study of 2,000 parents and children found despite youngsters enjoying healthier snacks, the average six-to-11-year-old will also gobble down a shocking 260 packets of crisps and 208 chocolate bars.

As well as 260 bowls of cereal, 208 glasses of fruit juice and an equal quantity (208) of cake slices each year.

All of these delectable treats add up to around 63 grams of sugar a day – equivalent of 5,738 sugar cubes a year – which is more than double Public Health England’s daily recommended maximum intake of five-six cubes (24g) per day.

Rhiannon Lambert, registered nutritionist and spokesperson for Arla Explorers, which commissioned the study, said: “Providing kids with healthy and tasty snacks can sometimes be a minefield for parents who may often make the assumption that their child’s preference is for sugar.

“As we’ve seen from the Arla Explorers experiment and research, this isn’t always the case. Kids do enjoy simple and natural snacks, especially when given a choice so parents should be thinking about replacing some of the unhealthier snacks with foods high in fibre such as fresh fruit to reduce their overall sugar consumption”

A third also admitted to giving their children treats as a reward for good behaviour, and a quarter even said giving their kids sugary treats is “unavoidable”

One table was full of nutritious and healthy foods, and the other contained less healthy snacks like chocolate and crisps, and eight out of 10 children chose a healthier option with strawberries, watermelon, apples and carrots being loaded on to plates.

Children were also presented with what looked like a normal brownie to taste, in which all gave a big thumbs up, yet were later amazed to find the secret natural ingredient was sweet potato.

But children are more aware of the effects of the sweet stuff than we think, with more than half of the youngsters surveyed admitting that they know too much sugar is unhealthy, while two-thirds agreed sugar was damaging for their teeth.

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