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How much sugar should kids REALLY eat?

By Camilla Wagstaff |


Keys2words - How much sugar should kids REALLY eat?

There were actual jumps for joy at the IQS office when the World Health Organisation (WHO) released their revised guidelines for sugar consumption last year.

The WHO called for a reduction in sugar intake, recommending “free sugars” make up no more than 5 per cent of our daily calories for optimal health. This works out to about six teaspoons of sugar for a woman and nine teaspoons for a man (which is what ’s been saying for years!).

But the situation is a little more complicated when it comes to how much sugar kids should be eating. That’s because their daily calorie needs change so quickly with all that, you know, growing they have to do.

A two-year-old is going to have pretty different energy requirements to a nine-year-old, and that’s going to be different again to that of a 14-year-old.

Like we said, it’s complicated.  So, we’ve knocked noggins and done the maths for you! Here’s what you need to know.

“Free sugar” 101.

Stop! Rewind. What the heck is a “free sugar” anyway?

The WHO now defines “free sugars” as both the refined sugars added to processed foods by manufacturers AND the natural sugars found in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates. But it doesn’t include the sugars found in milk (lactose) or fresh fruit.

What does this mean for kids?

Based on the WHO recommendation that sugar make up no more than 5 per cent of daily , daily intake should not exceed:

  • 3 tsp for all children aged 2–8 (about half a juice popper or a slice of toast with honey)
  • 5 tsp for girls and 6 tsp for boys aged 9–13 (about a bowl of Just Right cereal or a small packet of sultanas)
  • 6 tsp for girls and 7.5 tsp for boys aged 14–18 (about a glass of apple juice or a single-serve tub of low-fat yoghurt)

(Note: the guidelines apply to kids from the age of two.)

Looking to cut down your kids’ sugar intake but worried they’ll lose it if they lose their sweet fix? We promise they’ll love these snack ideas just as much!

How have you cut down your kids’ daily sugar intake?

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