Written by Claire Derbyshire
Low Sugar Snacks
There are two obvious reasons why we need to be concerned about excess intake of sugars – excess body weight and tooth decay.
Obesity and Tooth Decay
Evidence shows that energy dense diets such as those that are high in sugar can contribute to excess calorie intake, which if sustained leads to weight gain and obesity (1). If an individual is overweight or obese they are more prone to a range of serious health problems. These include cardiovascular disease; type 2 diabetes; breast and colon cancer as well as psychological and social problems, such as stress, low self-esteem, depression, and bullying. (2) .
In children, the situation is particularly worrying with one in five children aged 4-5 years and one in three children aged 10-11 years being overweight or obese (3).
“Body mass index (BMI) is a measure used to determine childhood overweight and obesity.
Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children and teenagers of the same age and sex. Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and teenagers of the same age and sex.
For children, BMI is age- and sex-specific and is often referred to as BMI-for-age. A child’s weight status is determined using an age- and sex-specific percentile for BMI rather than the BMI categories used for adults. This is because children’s body composition varies as they age and varies between boys and girls. Therefore, BMI levels among children and teenagers need to be expressed relative to other children of the same age and sex.”
Consumption of foods high in sugar can also lead to tooth decay (4). Oral health is a vital part of overall health. When children are not healthy and or they have tooth decay, this affects their ability to learn, thrive and develop as individuals (5). In 2012 almost one-third of five-year-olds in England had tooth decay. The North-West has higher levels of tooth decay than South East of England.
Are low sugar snacks a healthier option though?
The Government have set campaigns across the UK to help support families to choose one small swap to make their everyday diet healthier, such as swapping sugary drinks to “sugar-free”, “diet”, “no-added-sugar” drinks, milk or water. With so many low sugar snacks out there to choose from, is encouraging snacking a healthy approach or should we be trying to encourage eating meals and no snacking?
Children need snacks due to the fact they are growing and are generally very active with short bursts of energy output when playing games and seeking adventures. Depending on their height, weight, gender, and level of physical activity, children need more calories per pound body weight than adults do.
We are not suggesting that snacking is a bad thing, it’s the types of snacks that children are eating that is ‘bad’. Bad snacks are those with high sugar and salt content and those with high-fat content.
Should snacks be a part of your child’s diet?
If the right foods are offered at the right times, snacks can play an important role in managing kids’ hunger and boosting nutrition. A well-timed snack can even dampen spikes in hunger pangs and provide a much-needed energy boost between meals. Snacks can also keep younger children from getting so hungry that they become cranky, and they can keep older kids from overeating at larger meals. And for children who are fussy eaters, snacks can be a bonus and assurance that they’re getting the necessary nutrients essential for growth and repair.
If we were to choose a high sugar type snack, this would increase insulin levels quite sharply and the crash from a high sugar rush would then create worse energy levels and the vicious circle begins. This doesn’t mean that giving your child a cookie an hour before lunch is a good idea. The best snacks are nutritious — low in sugar, fat, and salt. Fresh fruit and vegetables and foods that contain whole grains and protein are also good choices. However, we know that children like to have a ‘snack bar’.
Myprotein now have the perfect snack bar for your child. The Grizzly Snack Bar– Made primarily with gluten-free oats and rice crispies, the Grizzly Snack Bar is the ideal healthy lunchbox option for active children to replace sugar-packed chocolate and cereal bars. With just 4.6g of sugar, around 55% less than your standard supermarket bar, allow your children to snack guilt-free whilst getting a healthy helping of protein, essential for bone development & growth.
The fibre-rich oats will help your children to stay fuller for longer, unlike sugary snacks that wear off very quickly. The bars also contain coconut oil adding countless healthy benefits. The Little Beasts Grizzly Bar has no artificial colours or flavourings – perfect! We know the importance of micronutrients in children’s diets, which is why we have fortified the bars with vitamins and minerals that will support cognitive development and the immune system.