If you're trying to limit how much sugar your kids eat, you may be unknowingly feeding them sweeteners that might not be any healthier. Consumer Reports reveals how the label game is changing, and it has some advice on how to navigate the supermarket aisles.
Nutrition labels are now required to list not only how much sugar is in something but also how much added sugar is in there.
To make the "added sugar" number look more appealing to consumers, manufacturers might take out some of the regular sugar and add non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose or aspartame.
It's sort of a good news, bad news situation. Yes, less sugar is better, especially for kids, who should have less than 25 grams a day.
Eating too much added sugar early in life puts them at risk for things like obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
But consuming non-nutritive sweeteners instead might not be any healthier for kids.
There's a lot of research about non-nutritive sweeteners and how they affect the body, from appetite to blood glucose control to weight loss. But researchers don't know how these sweeteners affect kids in the long term.
The best advice is to follow CR's lead and read labels, looking for both added sugars and non-nutritive sweeteners.
Better yet, choose whole, unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables. And skip the sugary drinks, opting for water as much as possible.
One reason it's so difficult to study the long-term effects of non-nutritive sweeteners is that manufacturers aren't required to include them on nutrition labels.