Are you feeding your kids candy and don’t even know it?

A couple of days ago Eric posted a half joking comment on his facebook page saying “When I was a kid, Halloween was one of the only times of year that we were allowed to gorge ourselves on candy and sweets. Now that the overconsumption of candy and sweets …is a daily occurrence for so many, why do we still need Halloween?”. I couldn’t believe the backlash that occurred. Most people were horrified (pun intended) that he would “slam” this oh-so-important holiday. Comments of “lighten up” and “what happened to your love of goofy fun” were plentiful.

It was actually the rest of the comments that really got me thinking. Every mom that posted (and there were many) staunchly defended the fact that “their” kids, don’t care about candy, don’t drink soda, eat only healthy foods, and the only thing they love about Halloween is getting dressed up and visiting people. I have no doubt that this is true for some people. However; given the fact that 1 out of 3 kids in this country are considered overweight or obese (source: www.kidshealth.org), somebody is feeding these kids some bad food.

I started thinking that it may not be that people are lying about what they eat and/or feed their kids. I think it’s that the food manufacturers are lying to the people, by way of deceptive advertising and confusing wording on packaging. Talking strictly about sugar, it’s mind boggling how much is in practically every product at the supermarket. Take a look at the foods in your pantry and fridge, not the front of the package but the back – the list of ingredients. It doesn’t have to be simply the word sugar; here is a list of some of the words that mean “sugar”:

  • Agave Nectar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylose

It’s quite a list!

I decided to do a little digging to see just how much sugar is in the foods that many people feed their kids thinking they are giving them healthy food. To start with I’ll use a 12 oz can of Coke – this contains 40.5 grams of sugar, or 10 teaspoons. A Hershey’s chocolate bar contains 31 grams. According to the American Heart Association a person (adult) who consumes approximately 2,000 per day should take in no more than 36 grams of sugar per say. Ok, now let’s look at some “healthy foods”:

Food

Sugar Grams (4 grams = 1 teaspoon)



Fig Newton Cookie

12 – per cookie

Orange Juice

39 – per 12 oz.

Grape Juice

60 – per  12 oz.

Kelloggs Frosted Flakes

38 –per  1 cup

Kelloggs Special K

13 – per 1 cup

Ketchup

28 – per ½ cup

Yoplait Yogurt

27 – per 6 oz.

6” Chicken Teriyaki Sub (Subway)

17 – per sub

Sweet Tea (Subway)

66 – per 16 oz.

Low Fat Chocolate Milk

43 – per 12 oz.

Applesauce (Arby’s)

18 – per single serving

Vanilla McCafe Shake (McDonald’s)

103 per 16 oz (that’s a cup of sugar!)

Happy Meal (Nuggets, Apples, Choc Milk)

40 – per meal

Pumpkin Muffin (Panera)

90 – per 6 oz. muffin

Vitamin Water

33 – per 20 oz.

Ok, so the Vanilla McCafe Shake wouldn’t be considered a “healthy food”, but I couldn’t resist….I mean, come on….a full cup of sugar in a 16 oz cup?? Anyway, the point I’m making is simply that there is so much sugar in the foods we eat every day,  that most kids are already eating the equivalent of a candy bar or two. That goes for the kids who don’t drink sodas; as you can see a glass of orange juice is equal in sugar to a can of Coke. Sure the OJ has some vitamins, but they would be much better off eating an orange than drinking the juice. That really goes for all juices.

So, is Eric’s comment really so far off base? I don’t think we need to do away with Halloween; but maybe it’s the other 364 days of the year that we should be more concerned with. Think about how closely you inspect the candy that your kids bring home from Trick or Treating. Maybe we should all be more closely inspecting the foods that come from the grocery store. I think that is where you will find our kids are truly being poisoned.

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