Sugar makes foods and drinks taste good which adds flavor and enjoyment to eating. However, too much sugar has become a problem as unhealthy eating habits have contributed to obesity and poor health. To address this issue, the World Health Organization recommends that people have no more than 10% of their total energy from added sugars. This translates to these recommended maximum intakes of added sugars per day:
|Age in Years||Daily Maximum Amount of
Sugar in Teaspoons
Comparing this to the actual amount of added sugar most Canadian children consume is eye opening. One 591 mL bottle of fruit drink or pop alone has 18 teaspoons of sugar. A 1.18 L slush has 36 teaspoons!
The Alberta Health Services Sugar Shocker Kit, which is also part of the Moving and Choosing lendable Liquid Candy Resource Kit, has several activities which help students discover the astonishing amount of added sugars they are consuming on a regular basis. I adapted a couple of these for HASS this year: ‘Label reading’; ‘Go, Yield, Stop Drinks’; and ‘A High Sugar Day for Tom’. In ‘A High Sugar Day for Tom’, it shows how a typical intake for a 14 year old amounts to 105 teaspoons of added sugars a day; 92 teaspoons more than the recommended daily maximum!
Some similar content is also found in the Nutrition Activities in Any Classroom resource, Stations 5 and 6.
Integrate health, math, science and art as your students learn how to make healthier food and drink choices. You can also carry the learning a step further by working this into Canada’s Food Guide discussions showing how the intake of added sugars actually displaces healthier choices (and their nutrients) or having your students build their own sugar shocker kit or information display. The additional learning opportunities in the Label Reading activity could be incorporated nicely into Humanities content for middle school classes. Here’s to happy learning for your students!
Submitted by Pat MacIntosh, Registered Dietitian with Alberta Health Services