Nutrition and eye specialists have said excess sugar consumption may trigger low vision in children. They advised parents to stop feeding their children with sugar-laden foods, warning that low vision in children affects their growth and development.
Parents, they noted, should not assume that just because their children are hyperactive; their bodies can absorb excess sugar.
According to them, excessive sugar consumption can lead to short-term and long-term vision problems, including blurred vision, difficulty seeing at nigh, and an increased risk of developing myopia, or nearsightedness.
Speaking exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise, the specialists also warned that excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, obesity and dental problems.
A pediatric ophthalmologist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara State, Dr. John Kolawole, said high intake can cause short-term changes to the eyes, such as temporary blurred vision, headaches and eye strain.
Kolawole explained that sugar may affect vision by increasing insulin levels, which could lead to changes in the growth of the eye.
The physician added that high sugar intake has been linked to an increased risk of a condition called retinopathy of prematurity also known as ROP.
He described ROP as a condition that occurs when the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, do not develop properly.
He stressed that ROP can lead to blindness, and infants born prematurely are at a particularly high risk.
He further said, “Studies have shown that high blood sugar levels, even in newborns, can contribute to the development of ROP.
“Sugar has been shown to hurt children’s eyesight. In addition to the short-term effects like blurry vision and can also increase the risk of myopia and other eye problems down the road.
“Parents need to limit their children’s sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day. This amount can easily be reached by eating just one serving of candy or soda. Children should be drinking water or milk, instead of sugary drinks.
“One way to educate parents about the dangers of high sugar intake is to provide them with simple, concrete strategies for reducing their child’s sugar intake.
“Parents need to set an example by eating healthy themselves and teaching their children about the importance of making healthy choices. Kids are impressionable, and they will follow the lead of their parents”.
Similarly, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Ede Ebele said excessive sugar intake can lead to other health problems in children, such as obesity and dental problems.
The food expert said the American Academy of Pediatrics has linked excessive intake in children to an increased risk of childhood obesity.
She added that sugar can interfere with the brain’s ability to make new connections, which can affect learning and memory.
She said, “The effects of sugar on the developing brain can be just as serious as the effects on the body.
“It is important for parents to be aware of the hidden sugars in their child’s diet, such as those found in processed foods and sweetened drinks.
“In addition to its effects on physical health, high sugar intake can also have negative effects on children’s cognitive development.
“There is a limit for children, according to the American Pediatric Association and most times children exceed it. When this continually occurs, there is a lot of damage that can be done to their health.
“High sugar intake predisposes the children to cardiovascular disease in the future and not just now. They will not be able to enjoy normal natural food again.
“Children are still very young, as they are growing, children need a lot of nutrients. They need nutrient-based food and not empty calories. When they are being loaded with empty calories, they are missing out on growth.”
According to the American Heart Association, kids aged 4-8 should consume no more than 12 grams of added sugars per day. For children 9 and up, the recommended limit is 24 grams per day. These numbers include all sources of added sugars, including those found in processed foods, sugary drinks, and desserts.
A study, published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, looked at the relationship between sugar consumption and myopia, or nearsightedness, in children.
The study included over 10,000 children ages 6-19 and found that those who consumed the most sugar were at a greater risk of developing myopia.
The study also found that the risk of myopia increased with the amount of sugar consumed, even after adjusting for other factors such as age, gender, and income.
The researchers discovered that children who consumed more sugar were at a higher risk of developing myopia, adding that the risk of myopia increased with the amount of sugar consumed, even after adjusting for other risk factors.
SOURCE: PUNCH Healthwise