Step Away from the Candy: Kids’ Health Improves After 10 Days with Reduced Sugar

While kids across Michigan are still reveling in their piles of Halloween candy, new research is pointing to just how much healthier they could be without its main ingredient: sugar.

In a study published online last week in the journal Obesity, researchers found that cutting processed sugar from kids’ diets resulted in lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

Obese children aged nine to 18 were recruited for the study. Their normal everyday diets were mostly kept the same – similar calorie counts and amounts of protein, fat, and carbs. The big difference was that normal sources of processed sugar were replaced with healthier substitutes.

“The menu was planned to restrict added sugar, while substituting other carbohydrates such as those in fruit, bagels, cereal, pasta, and bread so that the percentage of calories consumed from carbohydrate was consistent with their baseline diet, but total dietary sugar and fructose were reduced to 10% and 4% of calories, respectively,” researchers wrote.

We know the idea of eliminating or reducing sugar from your children’s diets two days after Halloween might not sit well. However, you can take comfort in the fact that health improvements were observed in study participants even though many “fun” foods were still on the menu.

Help your kids get on a healthier path one food swap at a time. Start by replacing processed snacks with fresh fruit or cut-up veggies when you can. Read labels on your kids’ favorite foods and try to purchase the lowest-sugar option you can find. Make meals with fresh ingredients when possible – many processed ingredients are loaded with hidden sugars. Definitely encourage your kids to drink water instead of juice, soda, and other sugary beverages.

Do you try to limit the amount of sugar your kids eat? If so, what are your favorite healthy swaps for sugary treats? Tell us your tips in the comments.  

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Photo credit: nakimusi

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