Stop worrying about the sugar you can see. That's not the problem.

As a parent, you try to feed your family a reasonably balanced diet. You don’t want your kids to eat huge amounts of sugar, right?

It sounds pretty simple. Keep fizzy drinks, sweets and cakes as special treats. Serve up lots of good things yoghurt and pasta with tomato-based sauce. Easy.

Well, not exactly. A lot of foods we think are “good” actually contain quite a bit of sugar. You wouldn’t know it unless you studied the labels carefully.

All this hidden sugar is bad for teeth. Every time we eat, our teeth are exposed to the sugars in food. The bacteria in our mouth convert these sugars into acids, and if teeth are exposed to this acid long enough holes develop – this is known as tooth decay. And no one wants to take their kids to the dentist to find out they need fillings.

These are just some of the sneaky foods to look out for.

 1. Tomato-based pasta sauce.

Jars of pasta sauce are a pantry staple for a lot of parents. It’s the basis of many kids’ dinners because it’s a great way of sneaking in some vegetables. But tomatoes are naturally quite acidic, which means sugar is often added to make the sauce taste better. So yes, good in terms of veggie content, but watch out for hidden sugars.

 Just as an FYI, this post is sponsored by Macleans. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

2. Breakfast cereals.

You know the ones that are chocolate-flavoured or rainbow-coloured are probably full of sugar. But you think the other ones are a different story. Yes? Not quite. You might be surprised at the amount of sugar in some “healthy” kids’ cereals.

You might be surprised at the amount of sugar in some “healthy” kids’ cereals.

3. Low-fat fruit yoghurt.

This seems like a smart healthy snack. Low in fat, a good source of calcium and with fruit as a bonus. But a tiny tub can contain a big amount of sugar. If you ever eat plain natural yoghurt, you’ll know how much the other type has been sweetened – and not just by adding fruit.

Related: For everyone who’s ever snacked on chocolate at work, then immediately regretted it.

4. Barbecue sauce.

Savoury? No, sweet. You’d be blown away by the sugar content of some store-bought varieties.

 Related: Low-sugar desserts that don’t taste like cardboard. We promise.

5. Mayonnaise.

You might add this to a salad sandwich without a second thought. But some varieties of mayo, especially the low-fat ones, are very sugary. So if you’re eating coleslaw, it might not be as healthy as you think. 

6. Canned vegetables.

Most people know that sugar is often added to canned fruit. But make sure you read the labels on canned veggies too. You might find the same ingredient has been added to your peas to make them taste more appealing.


he MACLEANS® brand has always aimed to be there to help with the dental health of the family.  Sugar is everywhere, it’s where you expect to find it and hidden in places where you don’t. Strengthen and actively defend teeth from everyday sugars with twice daily brushing using Macleans Multi Action toothpaste with fluoride for Sugar Acid Protection. Find out more by visiting