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Give a kid too much sugar, and he's likely jumping off the walls or fighting his bedtime with a temper tantrum. That's why most parents try to limit their kids' sugar consumption, but according to a recent Parents magazine poll, the average 4 to 8-year-old child is eating approximately 15 teaspoons of added sugars a day — which works out to be 50 pounds of sugar a year.
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Yup, you read that right. Parents magazine reviewed the typical diet of your average young child, which consisted of:
- Greek yogurt plus a cup of chocolate milk for breakfast (24 grams of sugar)
- Peanut butter and jelly for lunch (17 grams of sugar)
- Brownie for dessert (21 grams of sugar)
Without factoring in dinner or naturally occurring sugars in fruit, that adds up to over 60 grams of added sugar a day.
It's a serious problem that is finally being addressed — earlier this year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced an overhaul of packaged food labeling. Serving sizes will be adjusted and labels will list added sugars for the first time.
There's more you can do to cut back on added sugars in your family's diet. Use these tips from TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer to get started:
1. Eat a healthier breakfast.
The major culprits of sugar include cereal, juice, chocolate milk and flavored yogurt.
The healthier option: Choose plain yogurt and add your own toppings like fresh fruit, nuts or low-sugar crunchy cereal. If you can't lose the flavored yogurt, make a mix of half flavored with half plain. Whole-grain waffles topped with peanut butter is another good option, skip jelly or maple syrups that are loaded with sugar.
2. Rethink your dessert habits.
Everything is okay in moderation. Try to teach your children to look at dessert as a treat and not a time for total overindulgence.
The healthier option: Make fruit kebabs or serve fresh strawberries, frozen grapes or bananas. Another idea is to prepare your own desserts so you can control the amount of sugar.
3. Change what you're drinking.
"Kid-friendly" beverages are typically loaded with added sugar (think: juice or lemonade). It's time to cut them out of your family's diet.
The healthier option: Get creative! Flavor plain milk with a little syrup or powder. Also think about making water more fun — invest in a SodaStream, or buy fun water bottles for everyone. A more labor-intensive idea is to make fruit juice ice cubes and add them to sparkling water for a hint of flavor, or you can add lemon, lime and other berries.