US Infants Eating More Added Sugar Than Adult Limits Before 2nd Birthday

Grant Boone
June 13, 2018

"This is the first time we have looked at added sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old", said lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moreover, the oldest children in the study, between the age of 19 to 23 months, consumed an average of around seven teaspoons of added sugar each day, which is more than the amount of sugar present in a Kit Kat bar, the findings of the study showed. That's more than in many candy bars. It's been linked to obesity, asthma, dental caries, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

While the body processes natural and added sugars in the same way, added sugar raises concerns among nutritionists because it often replaces necessary nutrients in the diet. The researchers explain that these kids could also be at risk of making bad food choices later in life.

In the USA, at least one in five children ages 6 to 19 years old is obese, according to the CDC. The Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020 reveals that sugar-sweetened beverages make up 39 percent of added sugars in an average American's diet.

To arrive at her findings, Herrick assessed data from more than 800 infants and toddlers, aged between six and 23 months old, who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2011 and 2014. As for children under the age of 2, it is recommended that they avoid eating foods containing added sugar altogether.

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The parents of the study participants were asked to note down everything their child ate in a 24-hour period. She would be presenting this study results at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting during Nutrition 2018, to be held June 9-12, 2018 in Boston.

In the future, researchers will investigate the specific foods children consume their added sugar. Other research has shown that both eating too much naturally occurring sugar and processed sugar can change receptors in the brain, increasing cravings for sweet foods. For the 6- to 11-month-olds, 61 percent of the sugar in their diet was added sugar.

The added sugar included cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and honey.

Researchers say 60 percent of children have sugar before their first birthday, and consumption rises with age.

According to Herrick most adults are exceeding the recommended limits of sugar intake and this is reflected in the children of the household as well.

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