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How Much Sugar Do Your Kids Eat?


I’ve had sugar on my mind lately.  I was purchasing some foods with sugar in them for a nutrition class I was teaching yesterday, only to surprise myself how much sugar some of the common foods have that our kids are eating.  (and my kids happened to be pretty excited when they saw my stash of junk food)

What I realize, is that being informed is the most important thing.  Simple comparisons of food labels can save your kids from pounds and pounds of sugar each year.  Swap one granola bar from another, and you can save 15 cups of sugar per year, if they are eating one every day.

To make these calculations on your own, simply use the total # of sugar grams from the label and divide by 4.  That will give you the teaspoons of sugar in any given product.  So if a product says 16 grams of sugar, there are 4 teaspoons of sugar in it.

How much sugar do your kids eat

Here are some of my shocking discoveries!


cheerios and sugar honey smacks sugar
Cheerios has 1 gram of sugar per cup, or 1/4 tsp. Honey Smacks has 15 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup! Remember when it used to be called “sugar” smacks.  That’s probably why!



DSC_1139 nate drinking sugar
DSC_1141 orange drink
This glass of water has 0 grams of sugar, 0 teaspoons of sugar, and it’s free! This 20 ounce orange soda has 74 grams of sugar! That is 18.5 tsp. of sugar!



DSC_1132 DSC_1131
Although this plain yogurt has 7 grams of sugar on the label, all the sugar is milk sugar, and not refined processed sugar.  You know this by reading the ingredients and there is only milk and no added sugar in the list of ingredients. Hooray for Chobani plain yogurt! This yogurt has 26 grams of sugar!  If 7 of those are from milk sugars, there is at least 19 more grams of sugar that has been added.  Imagine pouring 5 teaspoons of sugar in 6 ounces of yogurt.



DSC_1118 DSC_1065
I wanted to throw in this store bought muffin with 32 grams of sugar, because it has more sugar than a TWINKIE!



DSC_1098 DSC_1097 DSC_1096
At 13 grams of sugar (3.25 tsp.), this snack is not going to give kids lasting energy. 16 grams (4 tsp. of sugar), this may as well be a piece of candy. Best Choice: This Quaker low sugar granola bar only has 5 grams (1 tsp) of sugar.


So now you know! Always check your labels. If you are buying cereal, get cereal under 3 grams of sugar.  If you are buying yogurt, don’t purchase pre-sweetened yogurt.  If you want to buy a muffin… make them yourself.

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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I look at sugar more than any other ingredient on labels. I switched to Greek yogurt this last year because it had almost half the sugar and twice the protien. I was appalled that all major brands now have their own Greek yogurt, but they have the same ammount of sugar as their other products. This can be so tricky for consumers who think they are making a healthier choice. Now I buy the Choban plain yogurt and we add fresh fruit and/or honey to sweeten it a bit :).

Yikes! That is a lot of sugar! I didn’t know about the dividing the grams by 4 to get the # of tsps. That’s helpful and a bit alarming to realize how much sugar really is in some stuff.

Thanks for this post! I’m teaching YW a mini nutrition class tomorrow and using some of these points… hoping to encourage them to choose “whole” foods over packaged, water over soda, etc.

Hi Amy,
I didn’t know how to calculate the tsp amount. Thanks for the tip. It’s amazing how much sugar there is in processed foods. I know from experience that sugar causes problems. I also know that taste buds change. My once sweet tooth son now eats oatmeal with only a few raisins and cinnamon. If I put honey on it he says it’s too sweet. 🙂
In our house we mostly use fruit or coconut sugar if sweetening is needed.

You’ve explained that so well and I love the visuals that you created. It’s a bit shocking! I will be reading labels more carefully. I wouldn’t even have thought to read the yogourt label.

I’m trying to slowly cut sugar and processed foods out of my children’s diet. They are ages 4 and 8. I love this comparison. Do you have other examples or tips that I can use? What’s a good amount of sugar that they can have?

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While it is eye-opening, it may not be as terrible as it appears. If you use the Yoplait Light yogurt (no aspartame), the Red Raspberry flavor is only 10 grams of sugar… not too far from the 6 grams from your Plain yogurt (and tastes so much better, in my opinion). Also, note that the 20 oz. soda is 2 1/2 servings. If you limit it to one serving, it cuts the sugar down a bit. Water is definitely still healthier, but it isn’t as bad as your portray it if you limit to serving sizes. As for the cereal… yes, Cheerios is a great change from Sugar Smacks or whatever brand you choose, but I like putting fruit on my Cheerios. Do you count the natural sugar in fruit? Because that would bump it up, I guess, but I’m seeing that as healthy eating as well.