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Most of us know that sugar can wreak havoc on adult bodies, but few realize how uniquely harmful it is to the growing livers, hearts, and brains of children. And the damage can begin early in life. In his research on the effects of sugar on kids’ present and future health, USC Professor of Pediatrics and Program Director for Diabetes and Obesity at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Michael Goran has found that too much sugar doesn’t just cause childhood obesity, it can cause health issues in kids who are not overweight too, including fatty liver disease, prediabetes, and elevated risk for eventual heart disease. And, it is a likely culprit in the behavioral, emotional, and learning problems that many children struggle with every day.
In a groundbreaking study, Goran’s team conducted a detailed analysis of the sugary products that kids love and found that these yogurts, cereals, sodas, and juices often had more sugar than advertised and also contained different types of sugar than were being disclosed. Today’s children are not just consuming more sugar than ever, but they are consuming sugars that are particularly harmful to them–and their parents don’t even know it.
The news is dire, but there is also plenty of hope. We can prevent, address, and even in many cases reverse the effects of too much sugar. In this guide to “Sugarproof” kids, Dr. Goran and co-author Dr. Emily Ventura, an expert in nutrition education and recipe development, bust myths about the various types of sugars and sweeteners, help families identify sneaky sources of sugar in their diets, and suggest realistic, family-based solutions to reduce sugar consumption and therefore protect kids. Their unique “Sugarproof” approach teaches parents to raise informed and empowered kids who can set their own healthy limits without feeling restricted. With a 7- and 28-day challenge to help families right-size sugar in their diets, along with more than 35 recipes all without added sugars, everyone can give their children a healthy new start to life.
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