This week is Sugar Awareness week and given our recent certification with Sugarwise (i will come onto that later in the blog) i thought I would chat a little bit about sugar consumption in baby and infants’ diets. This is something very close to my heart and it is at the centre of everything the Heavenly brand stands for. Since i started Heavenly, I have strived to build a business which helps promote healthy eating from weaning stage and onwards, and to provide parents with healthy, low sugar snacks which are so difficult to find in a world of processed and sugar laden foods.
I never fail to be amazed by the statistics on sugar consumption, especially in children’s foods when I read or hear the most recent findings from health providers in the UK and Ireland and indeed worldwide. Excess sugar consumption is so harmful to our children and yet recent reports have found that a child in the UK can consumer half of their recommended daily sugar intake at breakfast time alone!
(This video from the NHS is worth a watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gswZ9wIFRCs )
Dangers of Hidden Sugars:
In today’s diet, there are hidden sugars everywhere. Drinks, cereals, breads and even foods which are perceived to be ‘healthy’ can contain dangerous amounts of hidden sugars. It is these sugars which are contributing to a variety of harmful, life-changing illnesses in our children such as diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay.
Check the label:
It is so important to check the labels on food products and understand how many ‘free sugars’ are contained within. ‘Free Sugars’ can be sugars which are added to food or drinks but also sugars which naturally occur in foods such as honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices. If a product is labelled ‘no added sugar’ it is still important to check the ‘free sugar’ content as these may still be too high as part of your baby/child’s diet.
Adults are advised not to eat more than 30g of free sugars a day, which is roughly seven sugar cubes. Children should have less – no more than 19g a day for children aged 4 to 6 years old (5 sugar cubes), and no more than 24g (6 sugar cubes) for children aged 7 to 10 years old.
According to the NHS guidelines:
- anything higher than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g is considered high and
- anything lower than 5g of total sugars or less per 100g is considered as low.
If a product contains levels of sugars between these two amounts it is considered medium level and ok to consume as part of a healthy diet. When reading the label on food packing always look for
Look for "Carbohydrates (of which sugars)" and this will give you the total grams of sugar per 100g.
This sugars figure in the nutrition label is the total amount of sugars in the food. "Total sugars" describes the total amount of sugars from all sources (free sugars plus those from milk and those present in the structure of foods such as fruit and vegetables).
For example, a plain yoghurt may contain 9.9g total sugars but none of these are free sugars as they all come from milk. The same applies to an individual portion of fresh fruit salad that might contain around 20g of total sugars, depending on the fruits selected, all of which are naturally present within the cellular structure of the fruit (rather than "free").
This means that food containing lots of fruit or milk will be a healthier choice than one that contains lots of free sugars, even if the two products contain the same total amount of sugars. You can tell if the food contains lots of added sugars by checking the ingredients list. If sugar is in the ingredients, or if it appears near the top of the list of ingredients then you will know that it will be higher in sugar.
The less sugar we consume in our diets the better and we all should aim to fill our diets with fresh, organic (where possible) and non-processed foods loading up on fruits and vegetables as much as possible.
Why we choose to be certified with Sugarwise:
Just last week we announced that we have achieved Sugarwise certification for our products and all packaging will now carry the Sugarwise logo. This logo will help to make it easier for parents to spot ‘healthy, low sugar’ products on supermarket shelves and the certification is being used by over 300 companies worldwide. Developed in 2006 by Rend Platings, a mother who was concerned about finding lower sugar products for her baby, the Sugarwise movement has grown dramatically, driven by consumers’ demand for healthy low sugar foods for both children and adults. I am so proud to now be part of this movement to have the Sugarwise logo in the baby aisle in supermarkets across the globe.
To read more about the Sugarwise certification visit – www.sugarwise.org