Stepping Into Science is a series where we explore exciting science concepts from A-Z. There will also be activity ideas accompanying each post to extend your child’s learning.
With the often sweltering weather in Singapore, we often reach out for an ice-cold drink to cool off the heat – sometimes even for children. One of the most common drinks that we give children is fruit juice, since it is perceived to be healthier than soft drinks. Some parents also choose to cool off the heat with popsicles or ice cream.
While parents are generally aware that ice cream is a sugar-loaded treat, what about fruit juice? This may come as a surprise to some parents, but fruit juice is not exactly a healthy beverage. Fruit juice not only contains more sugar than we think, it also does not have fibre unlike whole fruit. A survey conducted by the Health Promotion Board revealed that 28% of parents and caregivers of children between four and nine years old feed them sweetened drinks more than once a week. This percentage increases to 34% for children aged 10 years and above.
Excess sugar intake may lead to health problems later on in life, such as hypertension and diabetes. To exacerbate the issue, effects of excessive sugar intake can be seen from young. These include tooth decay, excess weight gain, and poorer dietary choices.
Here are some tips to reduce your child’s sugar intake:
- Avoid putting sugary drinks into your baby’s sippy cup or milk bottle, e.g. apple juice, soft drinks, as this encourages prolonged, frequent consumption of sugary drinks throughout the day.
- After your child turns 1, offer them water when he is thirsty. Avoid offering formula milk on-demand throughout the whole day as that can cause tooth decay due to its high sugar content.
- After your child turns 1, offer them full-cream milk instead of formula milk as full-cream milk is less sweet.
- Offer your child whole fruits instead of juice.
- Always ensure that you brush your child’s teeth after his last feed (including milk), before bed.
You can make some frozen treats with whole fruit that are rich in fibre and a great alternative to fruit juice. All you need are a few simple ingredients:
- Assorted fruit (e.g. melon, blueberry, strawberry, grapes, etc.)
- Popsicle mould/Ice cube tray
- Ice cream sticks
- Blender/Food processor
- Put all the fruit in a blender and blend till smooth. Blending retains the fibre as compared to using a juicer.
Tip: You can add some unsweetened yogurt into the mixture too.
2. Pour the mixture into a popsicle mould. You can also reuse yoghurt cups for this.
3. Insert ice cream sticks in each cup.
4. Place the mould in the freezer to set.
5. Remove the frozen fruit pops from the mould for a fibre-rich, low-sugar treat!
Tip: You can also insert an ice cream stick in fruit like watermelon and mango and pop it in the freezer!
Written by Ang Shi Min
Featured image by Jarrod Chua