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A spoonful of sugar?

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by Tara Kimura, CBCNews.ca

In almost any amusement park, playground, or shopping mall across Canada at this very moment, there are surely children throwing five-alarm tantrums. The meltdowns always exhibit some of the same properties — the feet are stamped in a drum-like roll, the bottom lip protrudes in a pout and the whining wails of discontent echo loudly.

Dietitian Mary Bamford, speaking on behalf of Coca-Cola, suggests maintaining proper hydration may go a long way in preventing these episodes. And she notes, a little sugar isn't necessarily a bad thing. If kids become even a little dehydrated, they'll become impatient, apathetic and grumpy, she said, noting water is always the first drink of choice, followed by milk.

"Kids are more vulnerable to dehydration because their kidneys are not mature, their sweat glands are not mature, they don't have as much cardiac output, they don't anticipate heat," said Bamford.

She also cautioned that entirely ruling out sugary drinks may lead to overindulgence later on.

"If parents don't expose kids to things in our culture, they're going to go crazy in their teens and so really teaching them reasonable choices is a good way to go so getting 10 per cent of your calories from added sugars is quite reasonable," she said.

Admittedly, Bamford is speaking on behalf of Coca-Cola, but I considered her advice for a while, thinking back to those kids in university who had the sudden, unfettered access to sugar and television thrust upon them. They abandoned tutorials and lectures and parked themselves in the dorm's TV lounge with a mixing bowl, a really big spoon, a box of Lucky Charms and a full day's plans to cram in as many soap operas as possible.

For parents, it must be a tough map to navigate, especially as obesity levels continue to climb. Do you subscribe to the notion that cutting off all sugar will inevitably lead to overindulgence later on? Or do you believe that kids won't miss what they never had? How do you control the sugar in your child's diet? How do you ensure your kids stay hydrated?

And, as for general hydration guidelines, the dietary reference intake for kids is as follows:


  • Children between the ages of four and eight should drink a 1.2 litres daily, or about five cups measuring eight ounces.
  • Boys between the ages of 9 and 13 should drink about 1.8 L, or seven to eight cups daily.
  • Girls between 9 and 13 should consume 1.6 L, or 6-7 cups daily.
  • Boys between the ages of 14 and 18 should drink 2.6 L, or 11-12 cups daily.
  • Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 should drink 1.8 L, or seven to eight cups daily.


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Comments

jakobjabber

Ottawa

I love this article. I love the bit where the spokeswoman from Coca-Cola is blaming our cranky kids on dehydration. I can think of a ton of other reasons why my kids get cranky. Tired, hungry, upset that I'm not letting them drink that can of Coca-Cola. Even if I don't allow my children to drink pop and limit fruit juice intake - I seriously doubt they are experiencing sugar deficits. And I seriously consider the risks of teaching my children proper eating habits will turn them into obese teenagers.

Posted July 31, 2008 11:13 AM

Kim

Ontario

I have a different take on why children throw tantrums - sugar. Sugar gives a rush similar to caffeine (I've used it to study for an exam before) but the crash after can leave children, you guessed it, grumpy. I saw this firsthand with my sister who would only throw tantrums after having hot chocolate on an outing or buying candy at the store. Take out the sugar and she was an angel. In addition, my mom is a teacher and saw the different behaviour in children who consumed more sugar versus those who did not. Needless to say she is now a strong advocate of removing candy, sugary drinks and junk food from schools.

Posted July 31, 2008 01:06 PM

Linda

Victoria

Since reading Gary Taubes book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" and Drs. Eades book "Protein Power Lifeplan" I am convinced that good health is all about insulin response. Giving kids high sugar drinks is giving them constant cravings for more at the cost of preparing their bodies for diabetes and obesity a few years later. Cravings disappear when we eat low carb, high protein and good fat diets. Studies prove that the insulin response lessens and we are just healthier in all measurable areas. The dollar is the bottom line - of course pop pushers are going to recommend drinking their product. Kids with even blood sugar and fewer cravings are calmer and happier. With kids now being diagnosed with Type II diabetes it is shameful to recommend they consume sugary drinks.

Posted August 7, 2008 06:08 AM

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Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

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Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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