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Experts Call For Increase In Sugar Tax To Fight Childhood Obesity: How Much Sugar Is Too Much For Kids?

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Obesity experts in the UK call for increase in sugar tax to fight the global phenomena that is childhood obesity. All over the world, obesity plagues numerous families and risks the lives of the young.

Increased sugar consumption is said to contribute to the situation and while parents are aware of the dangers, it is important to know how much is too much when it comes to feeding sugar-containing food to kids.

In the UK, experts from the National Obesity Forum recommend to increase sugar tax by 50 percent. For them, the current 20 percent tax proposed by Public Health England is not sufficient to curb the problem.

"We don't currently support taxing food products... but sugary drinks have no place in anyone's diet," says National Obesity Forum chairman David Haslam.

A sugar tax may dissuade people from buying too much sweets due to the high prices. Parents may find the costs to be too much for the family budget hence, disallowing their kids from eating sugar-laden junk food. Experts see this strategy as a strong solution to the dilemma.

Various organizations have showed support to the sugar tax proposal.

"Obesity will be a huge burden to society and the NHS in the near future," says Alison Cox from Cancer Research UK. She added that people should act now and that the government must restrict marketing of sugary treats to children.

How Much Sugar Is Too Much For Kids?

In the UK, the British Dietetic Association recommends adults to limit daily sugar consumption to 60 grams per day or 10 percent of the daily total calorie intake. While there is no exact numbers for children as diets vary per age group, experts recommend keeping sugar intake to below 10 percent of the total calorie intake.

Among the sugar sources included in the count are table sugar, honey, fruit juices and processed food. Lactose milk sugar is excluded in the list.

As for the United States, the American Heart Association recommends children to limit daily sugar intake to three to four teaspoons. Women should keep it to only five teaspoons per day and men to nine.

The World Health Organization also recommends limiting sugar consumption to less than 10 percent of daily total calorie intake.

Fruit juices are also said to cause excessive weight gain for children. Aside from that, these sweet drinks may cause tooth decay and diarrhea. Eating the actual fruit is the way to go and drinking fruit juices is not actually needed by kids.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend infants under 6 months to drink fruit juices at all. Children aged 1 to 6-years-old may consume four to six ounces of fruit juice per day and those between 7 to 18-years-old may drink eight to 12 ounces.

Limiting sugar intake in kids is highly important especially in the pursuit of combatting childhood obesity.

"Overweight and obesity in young life is associated with a higher risk of being overweight or obese in later life, which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes," says Dr. Elisabeth Weichselbaum from British Nutrition Foundation.

Photo: Pawel Loj | Flickr

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