Did you know that most baby formulas contain added sugar? If you are bottle feeding your baby with manufactured baby formula then you definitely want to check out how much sugar has been added. This may be easier said than done, though, according to an article from NBC Chicago. As with most manufactured foods, sugar content can be hidden in the nutritional panel by using different names such as fructose, sucrose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup.
The more I learn about added sugars in foods the more I am becoming convinced that this may be at the root of our obesity and diabetes epidemics. It seems like you can’t find any processed foods in the grocery store that don’t add sugar in one form or another. It is so bad that the average person now consumes about 156 pounds of sugar a year according to the USDA. That is the equivalent weight of a normal size person. Is it any wonder that many of us weigh twice as much as we should?
According to the study from NBC Chicago, Similac Advance Organic Complete Nutrition contains 3.8 grams of sugar in every 5 ounce serving. That means every bottle of formula contains about a teaspoon of added sugar. Would you feed your baby a teaspoon of sugar several times a day? I don’t think so.
This added sugar may be leading to the dramatic increases in childhood obesity and weight gain in several ways.
First, the Similac formula contains sucrose which is a very sweet tasting form of sugar. This means we are training these babies to like and eventually crave sweets. Is it any wonder that our children fuss and throw a fit if they don’t get their favorite sugar flavored cereal in the mornings? It shouldn’t surprise us because we have trained them to crave sugar at a very early age.
Second, increased levels of sugar in the diet will actually cause more fat cells to be formed in the body. These fat cells never go away, although they do increase and decrease in size through out your life. If you are fat, or were fat, then you have fat cells stored in your body. When you gain weight these cells expand and when you lose weight they get smaller. But they never go away and they want to be filled up again. This predisposes us to being fat.
Third, sugar seems to act on several areas of the brain which deal with addictive behavior. In particular it can cause increases in chemicals like dopamine which is a “Feel Good” brain chemical. When our body finds a way to increase dopamine levels it tries to repeat that process over and over again. If sugar makes us feel good then eat more sugar. Are we setting our kids up for addictive behavior by feeding them added sugar in their infant formulas? This is a question that needs to be answered.
The study which NBC Chicago conducted was implemented by a grandmother who wondered why her granddaughter gained four pounds in the first month after her mother stopped breast feeding and started feeding her formula. Four pounds is a huge amount of weight gain for a very small child. But, when you realize this baby is eating several teaspoons of sugar a day this result is really not that surprising.
This doesn’t mean that all formulas have a lot of added sugar. According the testing, Gerber Good Start, Similac Advance Complete and Enfamil Pro-Sobee all tested very low for sugar content. It just proves again that you really need to read nutritional labels for every food you put in your mouth and your family’s.
Most doctors recommend breast feeding for a baby because mother’s milk is exactly formulated for what they need. But this is not always possible. So if you need to feed a formula be sure you know if you are feeding your baby sugar along with it.