Back-To-School: 5 Low Sugar Drinks for the Lunch Box
High sugar foods and drinks are increasingly becoming a concern for many parents as the risks and triggers for childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes are better understood. In the UK, pressure from parents and dietitians alike has resulted in large retailers such as Tesco pulling high sugar products designed for children’s school lunch boxes from store shelves. The childhood obesity rate in the UK is similar to that here in Canada at around 26% according to stats from The Childhood Obesity Foundation. Unfortunately we are not seeing much leadership from manufacturers or retailers, and modest action from government, so the onus sits largely on parents to make healthy decisions on behalf of their children. The recommended daily intake can vary based on who you ask but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that no more than 5% of your daily calories come from sugar. For a 6-7 year-old the Canada Food Guide recommends a daily caloric intake of between 1,400 and 1,800 calories per day depending on physical activity and this translates to 70 to 90 calories (17.5 to 22.5 grams) from sugar based on the WHO recommendation. Here are 5 drink options that come in under 12g of sugar per 250ml serving:
White Milk (11g per 250ml): White Milk is a kid favourite and a great source of Vitamin D, Calcium, and protein. The chocolate variety on the other hand has similar sugar levels to pop weighing in a 25g sugar per 250ml serving.
Tomato Juice (9g per 250ml): Tomato Juice is very low in saturated fats and is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, and Potassium.
Non-Alcoholic Beer (9g per 250ml): Don’t check your prescription just yet! Non-Alcoholic Beer is a popular beverage option for children in Europe. It’s not only low in sugar but a good source of Vitamin B12 and Folate. Your child will also be the coolest kid in school. And in case you’re wondering, non-alcoholic beer has an alcohol content similar to that of orange juice.
Coconut Water (11g per 250ml): Coconut Water is popular in the health food community and touted as healthy beverage for a variety of reasons. Make sure you pick an unsweetened variety as some coconut water brands up the sugar content. It can be a good source of potassium and is often fortified with other vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C.
Water (0g per 250ml): This seems obvious but water is the only zero sugar option without resorting to artificial sweeteners. And although water is not a significant source of vitamins or minerals it is critical in keeping our bodies running efficiently. It is recommended that children between the ages of 4-8 drink one litre of water per day.
Getting your child accustomed to these lower sugar options is not only good for their health today but will help them develop healthy habits in the long term.
Typical Sugar Levels in Common Beverages (250ml serving): Energy Drinks – 30g , Cola – 29g , Chocolate Milk – 25g , Apple Juice – 24 g , Orange Juice – 21 g , Coconut Water – 12g , White Milk – 11g , Non-Alcoholic Beer – 9g , Tomato Juice – 9g , Water – 0g