Excess protein and sugar in children’s diets

We tell you what happens when the recommended amounts of sugar and protein are exceeded per day in the diet of children and adolescents.

The latest news related to infant feeding indicates that children eat more protein and sugar than recommended. For this reason, and especially in babies and young children, where they hardly choose, we parents are responsible for offering them healthy foods and adequate amounts that do not exceed those recommended.

Excess sugar

If something catches the attention of the little ones in the house is sugar, its attractive sweet taste attracts the interest of many children. One of the biggest problems is the large assortment of processed foods with a very well thought-out marketing to attract children, which provide very high amounts of sugar.

What quantity is the recommended?

The World Health Organization (WHO), due to the great problem of excess sugar, published guidelines in 2015 on the consumption of sugar in both children and adults. It is recommended that only 10% of the calories ingested come from sugar, and in children they should not exceed 37 grams per day. In fact, it is advised not to take more than 25 g per day to be healthier.

Are all sugars the same?

No, they are not. This limitation refers to those free sugars, including glucose and fructose (monosaccharides) and lactase and sucrose (disaccharides) that are added “artificially” to food or drink, whether it is the manufacturer of a product, a cook in the preparation of their recipes or the consumer himself. Also those sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, juices and packaged fruit concentrates. On the contrary, foods such as fruit or milk should not be limited, although they provide the same sugars, but their absorption is different when taking natural food.

Foods to avoid due to their high excess of sugar:

  • Candy, pastries, cakes , soft drinks, sweetened yogurts, chocolate creams, jams, commercial ice creams, etc. nothing healthy or recommended.
  • Packaged fruit juices , sugary soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.
  • Processed and pre-cooked foods .
  • Minimize the amount of honey, sugar (both white and brown) that is added to foods such as yogurt, milk, etc. Preferably we must accustom children not to add sugar to food, those who already take it are advised to gradually reduce the amount.

Beware of hidden sugar in food

Many of the processed foods contain sugar, without us being aware of it. Sugar is added during manufacturing, either for its sweetening power, or for being a good preservative, humectant, etc.

The foods that contain hidden sugar are: fried tomato, ketchup, some cold cuts, breakfast cereals, chocolate, soluble cocoa, cocoa creams, precooked foods (pizzas, lasagna …).

It is important to read the nutrition label to detect if the food contains natural or added sugar. If sugar appears in the ingredient list, it has added sugar. Different are the foods that naturally contain sugar (fruits, vegetables, milk or cereals in general) that will not appear in the ingredients part, but in the nutritional composition.

Excess protein

The Alsama 2.0 study shows the alarming figure that 95% of children between seven months and three years consume more protein than recommended, with the consequence of increasing the risk of childhood obesity. This conclusion is based on analyzing the dietary habits of 1500 throughout the Spanish territory, 70% of families follow a Mediterranean diet but use fast food between one or more times a week.

Current research shows how excess protein in the first two years of life is related to the risk of developing overweight and obesity in later years. The more protein is consumed, the increase in body mass index is greater.

For a baby of 6 to 12 months , between 20-30 g of meat a day, between 30-40 g of fish a day, 1 small egg are recommended. For children from 12 months to three years , between 40-50 g of meat a day, between 60-70 g of fish a day, 1 medium or large egg are recommended. The amounts should be progressively increased as it grows.

In conclusion

A diet based on real foods should be encouraged, preferably locally and preparing home-made recipes, so that they are processed and the adequate protein intake is controlled, especially in the first years of life. For any questions related to nutrition, MAPFRE Salud insurances have a telephone service 24 hours a day.

What you should know…
  • The WHO recommends that only 10% of the calories ingested come from sugar. In children they should not exceed 37 g / day, and the best thing would be not to take more than 25 g / day.
  • Foods that we should avoid due to their large contribution of sugar are: sweets, pastries, cakes, packaged juices, soft drinks, sugary yogurts, chocolate creams, jams, commercial ice creams, etc. nothing healthy or recommended.
  • 95% of children aged seven months to three years consume more protein than recommended, and excess protein increases the risk of developing overweight and obesity in later years.

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