How much added sugar is part of your child’s diet? Soon you’ll have an easier time finding out.
Get ready for some sticker shock on your child’s favorite foods.
The Food and Drug Administration is out with its new template for nutrition labels on food packaging. Starting in summer 2018, companies will be required to include an “added sugar” line to their nutrition labels.
The change, which is one of several to appear on the new FDA label, is designed to distinguish between sugars that naturally occur in a food and the sugars that manufacturers include later to boost flavor.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina conducted a detailed survey of the packaged foods and drinks purchased in American grocery stores and found that nearly 70 percent include some form of added sugar or sweetener. Some are more obvious sugary foods — cereals and candy, for example — but others are less expected, including sauces, soups, fruit juices and even meat products.
Jenita Lyons, health and wellness manager with the Children’s Hospital Foundation Office of Child Advocacy of Norton Children’s Hospital, supports the packaging change.
“Added sugar is a big contributor to obesity in children,” Lyons said. “If more than 10 percent of your child’s total daily calories comes from added sugar, it’s very difficult for them to maintain a healthy weight. Now parents will have an easier time knowing what they’re putting in their kids’ bodies.”
Lyons cautions that while these label changes will help, it’s only part of the solution to fight Kentucky’s growing obesity epidemic. To keep your kids (and yourself) at a healthy weight, she recommends following the 5-2-1-0 rule:
•Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
•Get two hours or less of screen time per day, including TV, videogames and tablets.
•Perform at least one hour of physical activity each day.
•Drink zero sugar-sweetened beverages.
“Being active and eating healthy foods improve physical, mental and emotional well-being, and can help kids succeed in school and sleep better,” Lyons said. “It can also lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.”
Find other ways to keep your kids healthy.