Although parents may pamper a child’s “sweet tooth” because they think it’s harmless, excess sugar intake have a negative impact on a child’s development. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a major contributing factor in obesity among children is the availability of sugary drinks on public school campuses. Processed sugars in many common foods such as mayonnaise and bread can also have negative effects on the development of childhood.
Sugared drinks, fruit juice, soft drinks and sports drinks, contribute to weight gain in children, especially those who are not physically active. These are typically high-calorie drinks that do not curb appetites, so children can drink large amounts without feeling full. In addition, children who regularly eat snacks such as cookies, ice cream, chocolate biscuits and sweets, are at a higher risk of being overweight. The danger with these types of habits is that children who develop unhealthy food preferences may find it harder to change these choices when they become adults.
Sugar can damage children’s teeth. Tooth decay occurs when sugar interacts with saliva in the mouth, containing bacteria. It starts a reaction with the sugar and creates unhealthy plaque, a sticky film that coats childrens teeth. Babies and children who drink fruit juice, are at risk for tooth decay, because the mouth is constantly filled with sugar. Older children who consume a large amount of food containing sugar such as soft drinks, chocolate and sweets can cause cavities and gum diseases and gingivitis, which means inflammation of the gums.
According to a study conducted by the CDC with a sample of more than 2,000 teenagers in 2010, it is revealed that those who consumed high amounts of sugar, faced with decreased high – density lipoprotein – also known as HDL or good cholesterol – levels. Conversely, their low-density lipoprotein – commonly referred to as LDL or bad cholesterol have increased. Low HDL and high LDL are important factors causing heart disease. Although the study does not suggest that the children will develop heart disease in their youth, it releases a warning that abundant sugar consumption in childhood can lead to heart disease in adulthood.
Children who consume large amounts of refined sugar – like those found in white sugar, corn syrup and honey – can experience a suppression of their immune system. This is because of the negative effects of the sugar on the ability of white blood cells to engage with harmful bacteria in children’s body. Dr. William Sears, an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, says studies have shown that this state of suppressed immunity remains in effect for almost five hours after the refined sugar is consumed. This means that the children are at a higher risk of falling ill during this period.