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Sugar Rush - Hidden Sugars in Food

Sugar Rush - Hidden Sugars in Food

Sugar content in foods 

Do you check your labels? You might be surprised at just how much sugar we are consuming. Reading labels is key when shopping, especially in the supermarket. Here at Mummy Cooks, Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush documentary really resonated with us and encouraged us to investigate the hidden sugars in 'children's' food.

We made a conscious effort to head out and take a look at some of the foods marketed towards children, comparing them to their adult alternatives. Surely they are all the same? Just a smaller portion with some cute packaging, right? We hoped so, but unfortunately this was not the case. We should be looking at the sugar value per 100g. 5g per 100g is a low sugar food – anything above that would be considered as high. Don’t be fooled by ‘added calcium’ ‘fortified with vitamins’ etc. Know your facts about sugar content.


When choosing juices be wary of products prepared from concentrate. We found that orange juices marketed towards children, while lower in sugar than their adult counterparts, were more often to be prepared from concentrate. Aim to buy freshly sqeezed juices, and if this isn't possible, go for juices 100% not from concentrate.

While the orange juice marketed towards children has a lower sugar content (7.7g per 100ml) compared to that of the Adult version which has (10g per 100ml), they were mainly from concentrate. The adult one comes from 100% oranges, has 20mg more vitamin C per 100ml and, in our opinion, is a far better option. Why not try squeezing your own fresh juice; this can be a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen! Alternatively watering down the adult version - one part juice to ten parts water.


Sugar levels in food tend to double as a result of fermentation, so be wary of seemingly healthy foods that actually have a very high sugar content. Fruit bars or dried fruits like raisins can seem healthy but it's best to stay away from fermented fruit snacks in your child’s lunch box. Opt for fresh fruit instead, or try some Banana and Berry Muffins for a healthier treat alternative.

Some no added sugar products may contain aspartame. Aspartame is 90% aspartic acid and phenylalanine mixed with methanol, which makes up the remaining 10%. It is common among diet fizzy drinks and squashes/cordials. There is very little information on whether or not it is bad for you, however, it is known to be highly addictive and has been linked to hyperactivity among children. We recommend opting for water instead of cordials and avoiding fizzy drinks entirely. 

So how can we avoid all of this sugar that seems to be in everything we consume?

  • Water-down juices before giving them, one part juice to ten parts water.

  • Avoid fermented 'from concentrate' foods or drinks.

  • Stay away from anything highly processed.

  • When heading out, try to take healthy snacks along, to avoid being in a situation where there is no alternative.

  • Only buy foods which are low in sugar (5g per 100ml/g or less). If they aren't there, they can't be consumed!

  • Try to have a mix of healthy homemade snacks along with shop bought low sugar snacks.
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