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Sugar - yes, you're sweet enough!

sugar; sucrose; glucose; fructose; carbohydrates; syrup; beet; treacle; lactose; sweet; sweeteners; refining; icing; castor; raw;


What is sugar?

The food that we call sugar is a carbohydrate (car-bow-hy-drate) called sucrose (soo-krose), which is made up from 2 smaller carbohydrates – fructose (fruk-toze) and glucose (gloo-coze). Glucose is used by our body for energy, and fructose is quickly changed into glucose in our body.

Carbohydrates give our bodies energy. Sugar can be absorbed very quickly by the body and used as energy. The body stores the energy it does not need as glycogen (gly-co-jen) in the liver.

Sugar can come from sugar cane or the root of the sugar beet plant. Maple syrup (from maple trees) and honey are also almost all made of sugar. They contain very small amounts of other chemicals which make them look and taste different.

  • The sugar that is white sugar is the same as that in raw sugar and treacle – but raw sugar and treacle contain other things which make them a brown colour and taste different.
  • Sugar is made from sugar beet or sugar cane by refining it. This is done in a factory called a refinery (say 're-fine-ary).
  • White sugar is crushed to make castor sugar and icing sugar.
    cup-cakes - yum!!

Many foods, like fruit, vegetables and dairy products, contain natural sugars. The sugar in dairy products is called lactose (say 'lack-toes').

Corn syrup is made from corn starch. Sometimes artificial sweeteners are added to it. Check the food labels on the product to find out what has been added.

Good things about sugar

  • Sugar helps foods last longer by acting as a preservative in foods like jam, canned or bottled fruit and vegetables.
  • Some people add sugar to their food or drinks to make them taste sweeter.
  • Sugar can make food look good, eg by being sprinkled on the top of cakes and pies.
  • It works with yeast to make bread rise.
  • Some people use it to balance the acid taste of foods pickled in vinegar, e.g. pickled onions.
  • It makes ice-cream and ice-blocks taste sweet.
  • It's in special 'sometimes' foods like sweets, chocolate and soft drinks.
    We are fruit

Problems caused by too much sugar

Eating sugary foods can make you feel full for a while but your body is missing out on lots of good stuff, like proteins, vitamins and minerals which it could be getting from healthier food choices.

  • don't forget to floss and brush your teeth after eatingTooth decay is caused by the acid made by bacteria that grow in sugar. The acid eats away at the enamel of the teeth. Rinse your mouth with water after eating something sugary. Don't forget to floss and brush your teeth well twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste. Have a look at the topic Teeth - open wide - looking after your teeth
  • Too many sugar-sweetened drinks are one of the main causes of kids becoming obese.
  • Being overweight increases the chance of getting diabetes.
  • Sugar is often a large part of foods which are also high in fat, eg. chocolate, cakes and biscuits - the 'sometimes' foods.

How much sugar is ok?

Dietitians (dy-et-ish-ans) know that a little sugar each day as part of a healthy diet is ok. But sugar should be less than 10% of the total energy intake each day.

That means that if you are 12 years old and drink a 600ml bottle of soft drink you will have had much more than your sugar allowance for the day as it contains between 12-15 teaspoons of sugar!

Fruit, vegetables and dairy foods contain their own natural carbohydrates (such as fructose or lactose) plus lots of other good stuff as well. Eat a balanced diet and your body will be happy and work better.

Kids say

  • "Sweets are fun, Sweets are yum!
    But too much sugar is bad for your tum!"
  • "I love 'sometimes' foods but I can't have them all the time or I would end up being overweight."
  • "Brushing my teeth keeps the bacteria away." Josh
  • "I drew a picture of a lolly packet because I like lollies. I know they're a 'sometimes' food so I only have them sometimes." Rube
  • "Make sure that you don't break the FEED LIMIT!"
  • Mr Kinny Pinny
    Who used to be skinny
    He got very fat.
    Couldn't fit in his bright pink hat.
    The doctor came along and said,
    "This won't do.
    You've eaten too much sugar with your silly doggy crew."
    Mr Kinny Pinny started to cry.
    He wished he could go away and fly.
    In the end he worked very hard,
    Now Mr Kinny Pinny
    Is back to being skinny.
    Ruby G
    sugar is bad for dogs!

Dr Kate says

Dr KateRinse your mouth well with water after you eat something sweet.

Our topic 'Fuel for your body' gives information on what is in your food and what your body does with it. Learn to read food labels so that you can work out which foods are better for you. 'Food labels - what do they mean?' is a topic that may help.


bananas are good!!

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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