Oh, so sweet…or Maybe Not? (Part 3)

by Glenda Blaskey

Many of the foods marketed to children today are loaded with added sugars and are much sweeter than those foods with naturally occurring sugars. Children can become so accustomed to these overly-sweet flavors that they may struggle with acceptance of others flavors, such as the subtle sweetness of melon or the slightly bitter flavor of many vegetables. they often don’t learn to appreciate or eat a variety of foods and flavors because their taste buds have not fully matured to these other flavors. Eventually, sweet foods begin to take over the diet and many nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy are omitted. Many children may actually consume enough or even too many calories, but still suffer from malnutrition because they are missing many vital nutrients. We often overlook the short-term consequences of excessive sugar intake, but the long-term effects can be tremendous. Excess sugar intake often leads to weight gain, which can increase the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes. These conditions were once considered to be adult problems, but are now showing up much earlier. The Centers for Disease Control estimated that over a third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. While these numbers are startling, we can work to decrease sugar intake and improve our children’s health. Just a little extra time spent keeping and eye on food labels and ma bit more caution in food selection can really bring sweet success!