I don’t spend a lot of time following what Greg Glassman and CrossFit Headquarters are up to, but recently, they have gotten my attention. I’m not a big fan of the CrossFit Games nor the ongoing battle between CrossFit and the NSCA. These things don’t affect the daily lives of our athletes so they warrant only a passive interest on my part. Lately though, Glassman and CrossFit HQ have placed the sugar and the sweetened beverage industry squarely in their sights. Glassman has begun a full-on war attacking fake science, subversive marketing tactics, and the addictive properties of soda and processed foods. This war extends from local grass roots efforts to get sugary beverages out of schools to a soda tax to lobbying in Washington, DC for stricter labeling requirements. To this effort, I will gladly lend my wholesale endorsement. The passion that Glassman once applied to changing the way we workout is now being applied to improving our health and fighting obesity and Type 2 diabetes through improving our food supply.
Below is an excerpt from the most recent CrossFit Journal regarding sugar consumption in children. Having just come off a weekend of celebrating one of my kids’ birthdays, it gave me pause. Here is the link if you want to read the whole article.
Sugar: It’s everywhere, and it seems that we can’t just get enough.
Over the last 30 years, Americans have increased their sugar consumption by over 30 percent. It’s in ice cream, doughnuts, cake, frozen yogurt and all the other usual culprits, but it’s also hidden in most processed foods, such as cereals, breads and pastas. The biggest source of them all? Sweetened beverages such as sodas, juices, sports drinks and coffee/tea drinks—liquid diabetes.
“Sugar” refers to simple carbohydrates, the most common of which are glucose and fructose. Glucose is the basic energy source for the body and brain. The body stores glucose as glycogen to be used when needed. The body uses naturally occurring sugars in nutritive foods such as vegetables and fruits.
Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods and beverages when they are processed or prepared. Added sugars do not have any nutritional value (such as vitamins or minerals), they are not naturally occurring, and they create a state of excess for the body.
The Benefits of Added Sugar for Kids
Are there any benefits of added sugar for kids? No.
I cannot think of a single healthy child for whom I would recommend added sugars. I wouldn’t recommend added sugars even for a child who has failure to thrive (too small). I would recommend protein and vegetables. A calorie is not a calorie. Every child I know gets enough glucose from naturally occurring sugars.
I have prescribed synthetic sugar to a diabetic child and IV sugar to hospitalized children who are not able to eat—but never to a healthy child.
Sugar’s only benefit is in social settings. We want our kids to be socially normal. We want them to have the same experiences we had growing up. While it is normal to have cake and ice cream on your birthday or to bake cookies with the family, our sugar consumption is now way past extreme.
With the ubiquity of sugary beverages (especially sodas), crackers, fruit snacks and the like, we have to limit the amount of “socially normal” added sugar our kids consume. Forty years ago, a piece of cake had less effect because it was an infrequent treat. Now, kids consume so much sugar on a daily basis that treats aren’t even needed. For example, breakfast is actually dessert for most children if you evaluate how much sugar they consume in their first meal of the day.
Meals, snacks, and beverages at home, at school and at sporting events should not have added sugars.