- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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March 21, 2012
Kids and sugar — The good, the bad and the ugly
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Let's start with the good news. Kids are consuming less added sugar than they were in 2000. The bad news is that kids are still getting more sugar — 16 percent of total calories — than the 5 to 15 percent recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Just what is added sugar? Sugar used as an ingredient in processed foods, such as breads, cakes, soft drinks, jams and ice cream, and sugar eaten separately or added to foods at the table. Examples include white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose and dextrin.
The ugly truth is that added sugar means empty calories (no nutrients beyond calories) that put kids at risk of obesity and health problems that can show up as early as adolescence.
To put these percentages into practical terms, here are the averages for boys and girls:
|Age||Daily total added sugar (teaspoons)||Daily calories from added sugar|
Somewhat surprisingly, more calories from added sugar come from foods than from beverages. And more added sugars are consumed at home than at school, out of vending machines or at restaurants.
So what can parents and caregivers do to take the sugar out of their kitchens?
- Desserts and sweets. Limit portions of cookies, candies and other baked goods. Instead try fruit-based desserts.
- Cereals. Limit sugary cereals. Look for whole-grain cereals, such as oatmeal, that don't have added sugar — or salt. Add nuts, fruit or cinnamon if you want to jazz it up.
- Yogurts. An 8-ounce serving has about 12 grams of natural sugar. This is included in the total sugar listed on the Nutrition Facts Label. Many flavored yogurts also have a significant amount of added sugar. Avoid those and instead opt for plain yogurt and add your own sweetness by blending in frozen berries or other fruits.
- Beverages. Stick to water and unflavored milk (most of the time). Limit juices, sports drinks and other flavored beverages.
Bottom line: Check the ingredient list on anything that comes in a package. Ingredients are listed by decreasing weight. If you see sugar by any name near the top of list, reconsider. Is there a better option? Could you make this item yourself and eliminate or reduce the amount of sugar?
Does any of this surprise you? Are you ready to dive into your cupboards and see what you might change? Other thoughts?
To our children's health,
- Ervin RB, et al. Consumption of added sugar among U.S. children and adolescents, 2005-2008. National Center for Health Statistics data brief no 87. Hyattsville, Md.: National Center for Health Statistics, 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db87.htm. Accessed March 19, 2012.