Parents who make it a habit to give their children sugary biscuits and sweets are not helping them to grow healthily. Research findings have shown that sugar used in making them encourage the production of cancer cells in children
| By Chinwe Okafor | Feb. 24, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
BISCUITS and sweets are part of children’s upbringing everywhere in the world. But not many know that biscuits contain a lot of unhealthy substances and have little or no nutritional value except for the fact that they are a readymade treat that calms children down and, besides, are very popular snacks among kids. Research findings by scientists have shown that sugar, which is usually used in making these candies and cookies, encourage the production of cancer cells, thus reducing one’s chances of surviving cancer. A more recent study in 2013 found that sugar in the intestine triggered the formation of a hormone called GIP, controlled by a protein called β-catenin that is completely dependent on sugar levels.
Experts say the GIP increases the production of cancerous cells. The researchers also found that β-catenin may, in fact, affect cells’ susceptibility to cancer formation. Findings have also revealed that a liver damage from sugar could occur even without having excess calories or weight gain and that excessive intake of sugar could also hasten ageing in a child . Experts have also warned that without realizing all these, children are regularly eating excessive amounts of sugar, and that this high intake could have serious consequences on their weight and behaviour.
Nutritionists have said giving biscuits or sweets to children regularly are comparable to poisoning them at an early age. Uche Ogbanufe, a nutritionist in Kogi, said sugar has a significant influence on children’s behaviour. She said that children of all ages and across all spectrums of society are having their concentration levels compromised by the volumes of sugar they consume. She added that parents do not realise the extent to which sugar undermines a child’s happiness.
According to her, when a child eats something sweet that releases sugar quickly into the bloodstream, this can give him or her an instant boost in concentration and perceived mood. She added that sugar should not be removed totally from children’s diets but there are other healthy ways to sweeten foods such as using dried coconut, dried fruit and crushed banana in baking. Honey is an ubiquitous stand-by, Ogbanufe said.
James Sanusi, another nutritionist, warns that if parents can avoid giving their kids biscuits and sweets, they are reducing their kids’ chances of developing Type-2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure before they are 30. He said that many studies have fingered the high sugar and salt contents in biscuits and sweets as major factors in increasing childhood obesity and diabetes.
“As toddlers grow older, the lure to give kids sweets and biscuits may become impossible to ignore; but he said that the way out is to resist and look for alternatives. Parents and guardians might be saving children from diseases by regulating their daily sugar intake,” Sanusi said. According to him, one only needs to visit an amusement park, school or day care to truly see what is happening because more children are becoming obese and accumulating fat around their belly which is a factor for Type-2 diabetes and hypertension. He said that when parents give their children biscuits or sweets, they should know that they are giving them sugar in another form.
Joe Harvey, of Health Education Trust, said that there are awful lots of drinks that purport to be terribly good for children’s health but they are actually very low juice drinks with huge amounts of added sugar. “There is a very clever strand of marketing that adds the word juice to an awful lot of products which have little juice in them and it’s not so obvious for someone who isn’t aware of it or someone who doesn’t carefully read labels. The details are often not easily understood and presented in very small print.
“There is no doubt there is a lot of advertising that is very deceitful. It is very difficult for the average parent to have the time and the knowledge to interpret this sort of food labeling which is not designed to be honest,” Harvey said. According to him, such sickly drinks can lead to children developing a sweet tooth which affects their eating habits for years. He said that they make products which mimic and habituate a sweet taste in a child but gives the child nothing in return.
He added that sugary drinks can also cause tooth decay, weight gain and may even put children off eating real fruit, which isn’t as sweet as the juices. He said the rate kids are becoming obese and overweight at an accelerating pace is very scary. However, the British Nutrition Foundation advises children to swap fruit drinks for water, milk, or small quantities of pure fruit juice.