Does sugar stunt growth?

by   |   Feb 05, 2021

The height that your children will end up with largely depends on genetics, but the role of nutrition should not be neglected throughout their growing years. In fact, your children may fail to grow normally without a healthy and balanced diet. Too much sugar consumption is widely known to be harmful to your overall health. Some even believe there is a link between sugar and delayed growth in children. So, can sugar stunt growth? Let’s find out with in the article below.

Risks of high sugar intake

Recent years have witnessed a marked increase in the number of calories in children’s diet, which is due largely to the added sugar in drinks and foods. The consumption of sugary beverages on a daily basis is found in over 40 percent of children around the world. This figure should raise the alarm as children are prone to different health issues if they consume far too much sugar.

  • Tooth decay: The chance of your children developing decay or dental cavities increases when they are constantly exposed to sugar. Sugar encourages bacteria to reproduce and develop on the surface of your teeth. These bacteria over time will result in decay and cavities. Scientists have also found a causal relationship between the number of sugary beverages and foods that your children consume and the likelihood of them developing tooth decay.
  • Weight gain: Unhealthy weight gain should be expected as a consequence of large consumption of sugar. It is the added sugar in desserts, baked goods, soda, and processed foods that increases the food’s calorie content. If children ending up eating a lot of these types of food, they are acquiring more calories than the amount they need for normal development and growth. This would make them gain weight over time, and after a period of continuous weight gain comes obesity.

  • Other health issues: Studies have shown that eating too much sugar can contribute to the development of heart disease. Therefore, your children are at an increased risk of heart disease if they overconsume sugar on a regular basis. In addition, added sugar can make blood sugar levels rise rapidly. If this occurs from time to time, your kids are more likely to suffer from diabetes. What is more, children are vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies if they overindulge in sugary drinks and foods instead of acquiring essential nutrients like calcium or vitamin D. This could eventually lead to osteoporosis.

Does sugar stunt growth?

Contrary to popular belief, eating a lot of sugar alone will not stunt your children’s growth. However, if they fail to balance their diet with other nutritionally rich and bone nourishing foods, a high sugar intake could negatively affect their height growth. Eating or drinking too much sugar easily makes children’s stomach full, leaving little room for the balanced mix of lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products that they need for proper development.

Although your children’s height is largely programmed by their DNA, proper nutrition together with sufficient sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy living environment might assist their height gain profoundly and enable them to reach or even surpass their genetically predetermined height. Despite this, a measurement of your children’s rate of growth is better than measuring how many inches they have grown. Indeed, the pediatrician will measure your children’s rate of growth on a chart called a growth chart to look out for any abnormalities in their growth. A flattened-out line can signal stalled growth. When this happens, the pediatrician will examine different elements affecting their growth, including diet, to realize which factors are causing their growth rate to level out.

How does sugar stunt growth? What to do to avoid this?

Aside from potentially stunting growth, too much sugar might encourage your kids to grow in the wrong direction. Excessive sugary drinks and treats coupled with lack of physical activity and an overall imbalanced diet would contribute to rising incidents of childhood obesity. If this is the case for your children, cutting down on their sugar intake may be a good idea. However, remember to talk to your pediatrician first before putting your children on any diet.

Beware of your children’s growth rate as well. If it stalls, do not assume that limiting sugar can solve this problem. Other factors such as sensitivities, allergies, kidney problems, heart issues, chromosomal conditions, thyroid issues, and even some sleep problems could create a negative impact on your children’s growth. Should you have any concerns about this issue, consider discussing with your pediatrician for accurate diagnosis and proper treatment of the problem for your children.

Other foods that can stunt growth

  • Junk food: As its name suggests, junk food has very little nutritional value. On top of that, it can lead to a host of problems for children such as obesity and diabetes. But did you know that junk food also stunts growth? It lacks proper nutrients that support height growth, and thus, you should make junk food only a tiny part of your children’s diet.

  • Soda: According to scientific studies, lower bone density is found in children who consume a lot of phosphorous from soda. In addition, they are less likely to absorb the essential nutrients they need to grow properly when they drink the empty calories from this beverage. Hence, similar to junk food, parents should limit soda consumption for their children.
  • Rice: This is not to say that rice in general makes your children shorter, but a diet low in protein while rich in carbohydrates has been shown to stunt children’s growth. On the contrary, a varied diet that includes a balanced mix of protein and carbohydrates will facilitate favorable conditions for your children to reach their maximum height potential.
  • Alcohol: Technically, alcohol is not a food. Yet, it draws a lot of attention as it can stunt growth for children and teenagers. Therefore, it is utterly important to ensure that your children stay away from alcohol during their growing years.


Now that you know whether sugar stunts growth or not as well as other foods to avoid for optimal body development, you should consider making adjustments to your children’s diet so that they can grow strong and healthy. Nevertheless, you should not ban your children from eating sugary treats; instead, make sure they do so moderately.

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