Lesson Box: Sugar Sleuth

Sugar Sleuth!

Let your kids become secret detectives with this fun exploration on sugar in common foods!  You will take a look at different brands of foods & drinks such as cereal, juice and soda to find out which brand has the most grams of sugar per serving.

To expose children to the amount of sugar in common grocery items and to determine which items are the healthiest to eat.

This will enhance kids' research and math skills while encouraging them to make healthy choices at the grocery store.

  • 4 brands of each food/drink category: cereal, breakfast bars, yogurt, juice and soda etc.  
  • sugar cubes (1 gram each)
  • Coke-a-Cola 16 oz. bottle
  • Chart paper
    Spotting added sugar on the food label requires a bit of detective work. Food and beverage manufacturers must list a product's total amount of sugar per serving on the Nutrition Facts Panel.

    1. Make a KWL (Know, Want to Know & Learned) chart to discuss what students know about sugar in foods and what they want to know about sugar.
    2. Introduce each brand of food that you are using (Example, Cereal:  Cheerios, Fruit Loops, Kix & Special K)
    3. Use the Coke 16oz and sugar cubes to demonstrate model:
      1. Show the nutritional label on the bottle and explain this is where you can find how many grams of sugar are in 1 serving of each food/drink.
      2. Point out the amount of sugar in the 16 oz. Coke
      3. Next, explain to the students that each sugar cube is equal to 1 gram
      4. Count out the amount of sugar cubes to match the amount of sugar grams per serving in Coke (This gives the students a true visual of what a gram looks like and just how much sugar really is in soda!)
         4.  Finally, let the students become the detectives to determine which brands contain the most     sugar per serving, and which have the least.
         5.  Break students into groups according to how you see fit.

    Educate the students on added sugars that are not listed on the nutritional label.  Manufacturers are not required to list how much of that sugar is added sugar. That's why you'll need to scan the ingredients list of a food or drink to find the added sugar.

    Have students find the added sugars at the bottom, in the fine print.  Give them the list below to look for added sugars and add them to their charts.

    Here are a few of the names for added sugar that show up on food labels (list adapted from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (1)):

    • Agave nectar
    • Brown sugar
    • Cane crystals
    • Cane sugar
    • Corn sweetener
    • Corn syrup
    • Crystalline fructose
    • Dextrose
    • Evaporated cane juice
    • Fructose
    • Fruit juice concentrates
    • Glucose
    • High-fructose corn syrup
    • Honey
    • Invert sugar
    • Lactose
    • Maltose
    • Malt syrup
    • Molasses
    • Raw sugar
    • Sucrose
    • Sugar
    • Syrup

    Additional Support
    Sugar Stacks Website
    Show this website to demonstrate how many sugar cubes (grams of sugar) are in different foods/drinks.


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