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How frequently do you see the words 'No Added Sugar' splashed across products in the supermarket, but perhaps more importantly, do you know what it means? Don't automatically think that products with 'no added sugar' are good for your children - this may be far from the truth!
'No Added Sugar' refers to the fact that no refined sugar has been put into the product. However, this does not mean that the product is necessarily healthy, or indeed that it is even low in sugar! Such products are able to state this even if they have high levels of naturally occuring sugar. Natural sugars include:-
- Lactose: found naturally in milk
- Sucrose: sugar that is usually refined into granulated sugar, occurs in sugar cane, sugar beet and other plants
- Glucose: natural sugar found in carbohydrates, including rice, grains, potatoes, fruit and vegetables
- Fructose: natural sugar found in fruit and vegetables
- Honey: made from nectar, mostly fructose and glucose sugars
- Maple Syrup: made from the sap of maple trees, mostly sucrose
Fruit has high concentrations of natural sugar so a fruit juice may not need to be sweetened, but it could still have a high sugar content.
'No Added Sugar' can also be applied to food products that have been sweetened with other artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharine or sucralose. Most 'No Added Sugar' fruit squashes contain artificial sweeteners, some of which are suspected of being linked to their own long term health issues.
Our modern diet contains much higher levels of all types of sugar than our ancestors ever consumed. Over consumption of different sugars has been linked to many different health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart, liver and kidney disease and tooth decay and plaque.
Be aware of the different sugars in foods and fruit juices, and don't automatically associate the label 'No Added Sugar' with being a healthier product. Babies and children should be given fruit juice in moderation, and generally diluted with water. The best drink of all for them is plain water becuase that has none of the sugar contained in squashes, fruit juice or milk.