All food that we eat, whether fresh or processed, contains sugar in one form or the other. It could be natural sugar that is present in fruits and vegetables, or processed sugars that are added to processed or packaged foods.
According to pediatricians, endocrinologists and nutritionists; children get enough sugar from the natural foods that they eat, i.e from grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, etc. Feeding our children processed foods like health powders, that contain processed sugars, puts an additional burden on their systems. Not just that, these so-called fortified foods when fed to children at a young age, makes them crave sugar throughout their lives in varying quantities.
The marketing campaigns that surround these powders are so glamorous and inviting, but more importantly, to the innocent eye they can lead to one or more of the following emotions or concerns:
- if these powders are not given to children, their growth will be hampered
- if the child is lagging behind in their growth, giving these powders will help them catch up faster
- these powders will ensure that the child is free from various nutritional deficiencies
- vegetarian or vegan parents feel these powders are necessary to meet the protein needs of their children
- enhancing the taste of the milk by adding these powders will encourage the child to drink milk easily
There are a number of reasons why these so called ‘health powders’ are not healthy and should not be given to children:
- the amount of added sugar they contain
- they may contain addedflavours
- some might food colours that can be detrimental to health, especially if your child is prone to allergies
- they are fortified with multiple minerals and vitamins: some of these should not be consumed together simply because they interfere with each other’s absorption. For e.g the same enzyme is responsible for the absorption of Iron, calcium and zinc. So if these are taken together, the amount that will be absorbed of each mineral will be minimal or negligible
- they lead to a huge spike in insulin levels
- They lack fibre
Increased consumption of these ‘health powders’, coupled with more sedentary lifestyles of the children today, increases their chances of become overweight and having other lifestyle diseases in later life.
With India soon heading towards becoming the diabetic capital of the world, it becomes important for us as a population to arrest the problem at our end, sooner rather than later.
We as consumers need to become aware and smart today. Get into the habit of reading the list of ingredients and nutritional labels that are mandatory on every packaged food that you buy. Look at not just the calories or sugar content of the product, but also at the carbohydrate content, sodium content, etc.
Our children are our future, and we want them to be healthy and happy individuals that will be at the forefront of a healthy and happy nation.