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Old 3rd September 2009, 06:04 PM   #1
OneShotKi11
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Do children need sugar?

This is just another thread created because of my personal curiosity, and i wish to hear opinions and facts on the topic.

The reason i posted the question "Do children need sugar?", is because my Girlfriend just recently got a new job at a daycare center. Obviously these kids are between the ages of 2-3 years old.
now today my girlfriend was describing the kids and some of the rules the parents give her to ensure the children arent straying from the parents guidelines.
Anyway, she tells me that one of the children arent allowed to have any sugar what so ever! The children in the school were all about to have a break and drink apple juice, but the parents ran over and informed my girlfriend that there daughter is only allowed to drink water. Also that she is not allowed to eat anything with any sugar.
I dont know how that works but thats what they said, and this brought up the question, Is that healthy?

So my 2 questions are....

Is it healthy for a 2-3 year old to not have any sugar ever?
AND
Is it possible to not eat or drink anything with sugar ever?

It seems impossible if you ask me, but who knows.
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Old 3rd September 2009, 06:28 PM   #2
athon
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'Sugar' isn't just one type of chemical, although we tend to use the term to refer to any simple carbohydrate, mostly glucose, sucrose and fructose.

Again, even between these three sweet tasting compounds, there is some difference in how your body responds to each.

Glucose is necessary for your body to produce chemical energy to do its stuff - grow, jump, run away from girl cooties etc. Other carbohydrate chains or polymers can often be changed using enzymes into glucose (e.g., starch - a big long chain of glucose molecules referred to as a complex carbohydrate - can be broken apart using an enzyme called amylase to produce glucose molecules. This takes some time to accomplish, hence why it's better to have a big meal of pasta before a big sporting event and then top up the sugar with glucose during it).

So, do kids need glucose? Yup. Without it, they'd die. However, the more appropriate question is 'how should they get it?'.

Glucose ingested in its pure form will be burned up pretty quickly. Leftover glucose that isn't used is converted to glycogen by the liver for use later (it's like starch, only made by animals). If you have plenty of glycogen, your body will then convert it to fat. It's an energy intensive process, but given you've obviously got plenty of food, it's useful.

The physiological processes of children are pretty energy intensive, at least compared with adults. Growth and repair, not to mention the fact kids are tornadoes of movement and destruction as they run about and explore the world, do demand more energy than the average adult (keeping relative body masses in mind).

*disclaimer* I'm not a dietician - I have a background in biochemistry, microbiology and education. I could say I'm a nutritionist because, well, anybody can say they're a nutritionist. If I had a dog, I could say he's one too. And so is my wife.*

Well balanced diets that are smaller versions of what your average, healthy adult eats (IMO) are fine for kids. You will hear that they need more of one thing or less of another, however the truth of the matter is that with plenty of fresh fruit, veges, some meat, calcium and the occasional sweet treat, kids will get everything they need. Even if it doesn't seem as if they're getting sugar, they'll manage so long as they have enough complex carbohydrates.

If a kid drinks water instead of apple juice, but has a piece of fruit for afternoon tea and a sandwich for lunch, or some noodles, or whatever, they'll fare no worse than anybody else. Their teeth might even do a bit better, given they're not swishing acid around their mouth.

That said, if the mother is so overprotective that she's demanding her kid doesn't drink fruit juice because it has sugar in it, I'd be concerned for that poor kid's sanity later in life.

Now, if it was possible to remove ALL of the simple sugar from their diet and restrict their carbs, so they essentially just had a high protein diet, there would be some concerns. Lethargy, for one, as well as reduced concentration, possible dizziness and some other symptoms I couldn't be bothered looking up. Prolonged reduction in all carbs would have a pretty severe impact on their system, as the body would have to rely on breaking protein and fat down constantly for energy.

I hope that helps.

Athon

Last edited by athon; 3rd September 2009 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 3rd September 2009, 10:21 PM   #3
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Second what Athon said.

To add to that, glucose is the brain's preferred fuel source. The brain also has virtually no energy storage, so a reasonably constant supply of glucose is needed to keep it going. I think it uses between 80 and 120g each day. It can survive on other sources if it needs to, but that usually brings with it a decline in mental processing. Add that to all the things Athon mentioned, and it's not a fun spot to be in.

To answer you questions, it's almost certainly unhealthy to avoid sugar altogether (especially if one considers natural sugars found in fruits/vegetables to be "sugar") but it's probably possible to survive relying on starches to be converted to glucose by the body. It definitely isn't something that I'd be doing though. Sugar, like everything else, is fine in moderation.

(now, if the mother said she didn't want her child drinking apple juice because of the damage it does to teeth, that would be a different story...)
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Old 4th September 2009, 04:18 AM   #4
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what they said

"Sugar" is a very misleading word. Often it's assumed to mean sucrose (the white granular stuff you might sprinkle in your coffee or on your cornflakes). While there's no need to eat this at all, a little won't do any harm. But the catch is, I suppose, that it's very attractive to children.

The irony is that if you chew a piece of bread long enough (much longer than usual, probably) you'll notice a sweet taste developing in your mouth. This is the action of the slivary enzyme ptialin (strictly amylase) which is already breaking down the complex carbohydrate in the bread into simpler carbohydrates i.e. sugar

Providing sugar by the roundabout means (feeding them starches) provides all the sugar they'll need, doesn't let directly it at their teeth to such an extent, and might reduce their tendency to sweet-toothedness. But I wouldn't get obsessed about it.

eta: and there's the issue of rapid uptake of simple sugars into the bloodstream through snacking on sweet foods. But I think we've argued about that before.

Last edited by GlennB; 4th September 2009 at 04:23 AM.
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Old 4th September 2009, 04:40 AM   #5
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I think the issue here is "added sugar" (sucrose/dextrose), naturally occuring sugars in food are a lesser and different problem.

First, you must realize that commercial apple juice has "added sugar", and that this is an unecessary and problematic thing. "Added sugar" rots teeth, changes the metabolism, and along with related gluttony frequently leads to Type 2 Diabetes later in life. Then too when I was young, sugar gave me Hypoglycemia and caused me to be lethargic in school till I quit eating cereal for breakfast.

Not eating "added sugar" is the healthiest option and everyone should do it.
Not eating any sugar (anything with naturally occuring sugar) is not recommended and not eating any carbohydrates quickly leads ketosis.
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Old 4th September 2009, 05:11 AM   #6
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You have no proof that the parents have any restrictions like that on the kid at home.

Perhaps the parents just don't want to have strangers like the day care staff giving their kid extra sugar, so a simple rule of "no sugar" would be easier to follow than "less sugar." Everything they give you in day care is sugar. Cookies, juice, candy, I don't remember ever eating anything healthy there. Even lunch was peanut butter and jelly, no wonder I was a fatty growing up.

If I had told someone I don't want my kids to have any sugar, and they start pouring an apple juice for them- read the label, a lot of added sugar- I might not be able to contain the "hey idiot, what did I say" from coming out.
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Old 4th September 2009, 05:28 AM   #7
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Dentist advice is to have only water between meals; and with meals, juices should be well diluted.
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Old 4th September 2009, 06:17 AM   #8
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Would it be correct to say that there's no harm in eating no sugar at all, as long as you have a sufficient amount of starch and fiber in your diet? What happens if you cut down on those too? I don't know biochemistry, but if the body can use the fat or the protein in your diet to make more glucose (feel free to educate me about what the body actually does), it seems to me that it would be safe (and possibly also a good idea) to drop almost all the carbs from your diet.

If someone is interested enough to watch a 90-minute lecture on why fructose is bad, I'd be interested in comments about it. This guy seems to know what he's talking about, but I'm so dumb I can't even tell for sure.

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE
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Old 4th September 2009, 07:55 AM   #9
GlennB
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Originally Posted by Fredrik View Post
Would it be correct to say that there's no harm in eating no sugar at all, as long as you have a sufficient amount of starch and fiber in your diet?
That's my understanding, certainly. Simple sugars are relatively rare in a hunter-gatherer diet and we've evolved not to positively need them.

Originally Posted by Fredrik View Post
What happens if you cut down on those too? I don't know biochemistry, but if the body can use the fat or the protein in your diet to make more glucose (feel free to educate me about what the body actually does), it seems to me that it would be safe (and possibly also a good idea) to drop almost all the carbs from your diet.
That's a complex issue but almost certainly a bad idea. Although you could survive on it, a diet of protein and fat will reduce your digestive transit to a crawl and you'll probably get constipated unless you take a fibre supplement. I believe there may be long-term issues regarding bowel cancers too. Wiki articles on
Low carbohydrate diet
and
Ketosis
will throw more light on this than my wafflings.
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Old 4th September 2009, 08:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by G O R T View Post
I think the issue here is "added sugar" (sucrose/dextrose), naturally occuring sugars in food are a lesser and different problem.

First, you must realize that commercial apple juice has "added sugar", and that this is an unecessary and problematic thing. "Added sugar" rots teeth, changes the metabolism, and along with related gluttony frequently leads to Type 2 Diabetes later in life. Then too when I was young, sugar gave me Hypoglycemia and caused me to be lethargic in school till I quit eating cereal for breakfast.

Not eating "added sugar" is the healthiest option and everyone should do it.
Not eating any sugar (anything with naturally occuring sugar) is not recommended and not eating any carbohydrates quickly leads ketosis.
Responding only to the bolded portion, this is incorrect. I'm a Type-1 diabetic so I've been on the constant lookout for added sugar in juices for 25 years. Apple juice is one of the few juices that bottlers do not add sugar to. Orange juice is another. I think they are so naturally sweet and high in fructose that additional sugar would just be overkill. In the US, these products are labeled "100% juice", and according to their ingredient list, have no added sugar.

On the other hand, it's difficult to find cranberry juice without added sugar. Grape juice is another one that is often sweetened with added sugar. In the US, these products are labeled "juice beverages" or "juice cocktails".

I felt it was important to make this distinction.
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Old 4th September 2009, 08:45 AM   #11
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In the UK I believe that you cannot label anything except pure juice, as juice. Anything with added sugar etc has to be called "juice drink" or nectar, or something else.
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Old 4th September 2009, 08:53 AM   #12
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I'm gonna go with a over-reaction to a slighty under educated parent.

"On noes! It has high fructose corn syrup in it!"
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Old 7th September 2009, 05:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by G O R T View Post
I think the issue here is "added sugar" (sucrose/dextrose), naturally occuring sugars in food are a lesser and different problem.

First, you must realize that commercial apple juice has "added sugar", and that this is an unecessary and problematic thing. "Added sugar" rots teeth, changes the metabolism, and along with related gluttony frequently leads to Type 2 Diabetes later in life. Then too when I was young, sugar gave me Hypoglycemia and caused me to be lethargic in school till I quit eating cereal for breakfast.

Not eating "added sugar" is the healthiest option and everyone should do it.
Not eating any sugar (anything with naturally occuring sugar) is not recommended and not eating any carbohydrates quickly leads ketosis.
I agree. In the long term excessive amounts of added sugar also leads to inflammation which over time can also cause coronary heart disease, arthritis, dementia, and some cancers. In the short term, in addition to having a negative effect on metabolism, excessive amounts of sugar confuses the body’s appetite signaling system and is one of the reasons why many people overeat and are overweight. It is one of the main reasons why so many people have the peculiar problem of being overfed yet undernourished.

Additionally, some parents are concerned that food – esp. unhealthy sugary foods will be used as rewards and bribes by other caretakers. This can cause an emotional connection to food, esp. unhealthy foods, which can become a trap that is difficult to break.

As far as juice goes, fruit is a healthier alternative even when the juice has no added sugars such as organge juice. Even the USDA recommends that people limit themselves to one glass of fruit juice a day, and get their other fruit servings from just plain ol' regular fruits.

Added sugars can be added to foods under dozens of different names and I don’t think its realistic to expect the average person to know them all. I suggest that the parents be encouraged to bring snack foods that they approve of to the school – or to list very specifically what exactly is OK for their kids to eat. IMHO, just no “added sugar” isn’t enough info. And having their kids watch other kids eat cookies and other junk at snack time while they eat NOTHING isn’t going to work.

BTW, here’s some interesting videos that show how much sugar is in common foods. A huge amount! Each video is about 10 minutes. If you only have time to watch one, I suggest watching the second one.


The Truth about Sugar Part 1 (Nutrition by Natalie)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYzeC...eature=related

The Truth about Sugar Part 2 (Nutrition by Natalie)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBBhc...eature=related

Natalie isn’t in any danger of getting a news anchor job – but afaict, her info is accurate.

Last edited by Kaylee; 7th September 2009 at 05:45 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 8th September 2009, 03:23 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by OneShotKi11 View Post
This is just another thread created because of my personal curiosity, and i wish to hear opinions and facts on the topic.

The reason i posted the question "Do children need sugar?", is because my Girlfriend just recently got a new job at a daycare center. Obviously these kids are between the ages of 2-3 years old.
now today my girlfriend was describing the kids and some of the rules the parents give her to ensure the children arent straying from the parents guidelines.
Anyway, she tells me that one of the children arent allowed to have any sugar what so ever! The children in the school were all about to have a break and drink apple juice, but the parents ran over and informed my girlfriend that there daughter is only allowed to drink water. Also that she is not allowed to eat anything with any sugar.
I dont know how that works but thats what they said, and this brought up the question, Is that healthy?

So my 2 questions are....

Is it healthy for a 2-3 year old to not have any sugar ever?
AND
Is it possible to not eat or drink anything with sugar ever?

It seems impossible if you ask me, but who knows.
Sure the parents are nuts, no starches of any kind, no fruits of vegitables, no milk? Seems likely to be very unhealthy.
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Old 8th September 2009, 03:27 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Fredrik View Post
Would it be correct to say that there's no harm in eating no sugar at all, as long as you have a sufficient amount of starch and fiber in your diet?
You know startch and fiber are made of sugar right?
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Old 8th September 2009, 03:29 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
In the UK I believe that you cannot label anything except pure juice, as juice. Anything with added sugar etc has to be called "juice drink" or nectar, or something else.
You can get around that at least in part with processed apple and pear juice. You can call it juice even if it is processed into sugar water.
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Old 11th September 2009, 02:57 PM   #17
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Besides the obvious nutritional and dental concerns, given what we're learning about the addictive qualities of sugar (similar, neurochemically, to the effects of opiates), I think a parent taking a hard line on sugar is a wise move.
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Old 14th September 2009, 02:39 AM   #18
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UPDATE PEOPLE:
The child is also not allowed to eat meat! So her diet is Fish and water from my understanding.
Healthy?
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Old 14th September 2009, 03:04 PM   #19
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I should hope she is allowed to eat vegetables and cereals. If not report her parents to the authorities.
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Old 18th September 2009, 03:12 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by OneShotKi11 View Post
UPDATE PEOPLE:
The child is also not allowed to eat meat! So her diet is Fish and water from my understanding.
Healthy?
If she is raising a shark, that's perfectly healthy.
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Old 18th September 2009, 05:55 AM   #21
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No, no one "needs" sugar - as in sucrose - and only people with rare metabolic diseases, or food allergies to everything else must have meat. If that tone is meant to be as indignant as it appears (which I concede, it absolutely may not be meant to be) then I fear there has been a _slight_ overreaction here.

The amount of carbohydrate a body needs can easily be satisfied by cereals, vegetables, fresh fruit etc - and the amount of proteine a body needs can be satisfied with milk, eggs, fish or certain legumes.

Personally, I think that drinking juice is not equivalent to eating fruit - you get a more concentrated and immediate sugar "hit" from juice, with no added bonus of dietary fibre. Heck, you don't even need fruit (but you might want it): a good variation of vegetables can give the carbs and nutrients that you'd get from fruit, without the insulin spiking fructose.

I see nothing untoward in avoiding refined sugar or meat. It may feel impractical, and it might not be my choice, but I see no reason for concern about it. There may even be a reason beyond parental preferences that we don't know about.
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Old 18th September 2009, 06:05 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by ponderingturtle View Post
You can get around that at least in part with processed apple and pear juice. You can call it juice even if it is processed into sugar water.
What do you man by processed and processed into sugar water? AFAIK only pure juice my be labelled as juice in the UK, whether it is made from concentrate and then rehydrated, or it is "not from concentrate".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juice#Labeling
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