Does Sugar Stunt Growth?

There are many arguments about the consumption of sugar. Some reckon that sugar is a risk; others think it is just a way to appease or reward kids. But is taking sugar bad for their overall health and development? Does sugar stunt growth? Keep scrolling to know!

The facts you should know

The truth is consuming a lot of sugar will not stunt your children’s growth. However, eating too many sugary foods or drinking sugar-loaded beverages instead of taking nutritionally-rich foods might affect their height.

Firstly, if children’s stomach is full of sugar, they will have no space for the balanced diet they need for proper growth. Also, too much sugar might result in weight gain. If your kids consume a lot of sugar and do not burn calories elsewhere, they can gain up to 10 pounds in a short time. And too much weight gain can place pressure on your spine and bones, which might stop bone growth.


The science behind this fact

A recent study pointed out that eating processed sugary snacks brings a severe threat to the bones of growing children. Researchers carried out tests on mice and concluded that a high intake of fat and sugar and lots of additives hurt growth plates. Even a small amount brought a definite negative influence on skeletal growth [1].

Recommended sugar intake

According to the American Heart Association, kids under 2 years old should not have any added sugars in their diet. Kids aged 2 and older should not take more than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of added sugars daily [2].

Other risks of high sugar intake

Dental caries

Bacteria live in our mouth and love sugar. When they digest the sugar, they release acid as a waste product. And this acid might destroy tooth enamel, resulting in holes or cavities in the teeth.

Skin issues

Excess sugar consumption makes protein stick to your bloodstream and creates dangerous molecules, called advanced glycation end products. These molecules damage collagen and elastin in your skin, thereby aging your skin. And this leads to saggy skin and wrinkles.

Weight gain

It, of course, is not news to you. The more sugar you eat, the more you will weigh. Research also points out that people who drink sugar-packed beverages tend to weigh more and could be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes than those who do not [3].

Brain disorder

Eating fruits and veggies will not make your brain release dopamine, a feel-good chemical, while sugar does. That explains if you eat too much sugar, you will tend to crave a slice of cake than a carrot or apple at 3 p.m. And when your brain requires more and more sugar to get the feel-good chemical over time, this might lead to brain fog.

Heart diseases

The extra insulin in your bloodstream will increase when you take too much sugar and then affect the arteries in your body. It inflames their walls and makes them grow thicker and stiffer, stressing your heart and leading to heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes.

A study pointed out that people whose daily calories from added sugar are between 17 and 21% had a 38% more dangerous risk of dying from heart disease than those who only took 8% added sugar. And if those who ate more than 21%, their risk doubled [4].

Cancer risks

Consuming too much sugar can lead to oxidative stress, inflammation, and obesity, which might make a person develop cancer. A 23-200% increased cancer risk is caused by a high intake of sugar [5].

Foods with high sugar


Low-fat yogurt

Yogurt is nutritious, but not all yogurt is made equal. Typically, low-fat yogurt is often included added sugar to boost its flavor and thickness. For example, a single cup might contain more than 45 grams of sugar (about 11 teaspoons). Importantly, low-fat yogurt does not have similar benefits as full-fat yogurt.


Although granola is described as a healthy alternative to breakfast cereals, it tends to offer a high proportion of sugars, carbs, and calories. The main ingredient in granola is plain rolled oats, but they are stuffed with nuts and honey or other sweeteners to boost the overall amount of calories and sugars.

Canned baked beans

Beans and lentils are highly beneficial to our health since they include a great deal of protein. But when they are baked and canned in tomato sauce, they are added sugar to ensure a longer shelf life and improve palatability and consistency.

Sports drinks

Although sports drinks are made to fuel and hydrate athletes during workouts, they also include high amounts of added sugars. A 20-ounce bottle of a sports drink has about 32.5 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar.

Dried fruits

Fruits are nutritious, but they do not last long. Meanwhile, dried fruits have a much longer shelf life and will not get messy in your backpack. But these snacks are close to processed sugary sweets since sugar becomes more concentrated in dried fruits. Even some manufacturers cover them with more sugar to enhance their sweetness and durability.

Bottled smoothies

Making smoothies from fresh fruits or vegetables with milk, yogurt, or water is great. But if smoothies are commercially produced, they are not healthy because they are mainly sweetened with sugar-based syrups or concentrated fruit juice.

Ways to prevent sugar addiction in children


Be a good role model

Kids are watching, learning, and copying behaviors from their environment. So, if their role model is eating healthy foods, fruits, and veggies with their meals, they will be exposed to this behavior.

Look for lower-sugar food alternatives

Here are examples you should consider

  • Offer water, alternative nut milk, or grass-fed organic milk
  • Dilute water with fruits like lemon or berries
  • Make homemade oatmeal or smoothies with plain yogurt and whole fruits

Make small changes and be patient because this takes time. Also, you should notice the nutritional amount of high-quality protein and healthy fat sources.

Give healthy snacks

Keeping healthy snacks on hand is necessary for preventing kids from munching on other unhealthy alternatives, like chips, crackers, or granola bars. Take a look below to get some good ideas for preparing healthy snacks.

  • Grapes and cheese cubes
  • Apple slices with nut butter or a whole apple
  • Homemade trail mix with dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
  • Veggies like carrots, cucumber, or celery with dip
  • Turkey wrap with spinach and hummus

In sum up,

It is okay to incorporate sugar into a healthy diet, but do not consider it as the staple of any diet, especially for children’s diet. Keep in mind that they need the nutrients from whole foods to support their growth and overall health.


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