Babies, toddlers in US eat way too much added sugar, study finds

Grant Boone
June 14, 2018

The results revealed that 85 percent of the toddlers and infants studied were consuming added sugars in their daily diet.

A new study suggests children in America are eating too much sugar, and too soon. "Besides those ending in "ose, ' such as maltose or sucrose", the guidelines say, "other names for sugar include high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, corn sweetener, raw sugar, syrup, honey or fruit juice concentrates".

But parents have not been heeding that advice, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recommended daily limit of sugar for children age 2-19 is six teaspoons or less per day, and nine teaspoons or less for adults. Herrick and her team found that the amount of added sugar increased along with a child's age.

Parents of 800 children aged 6 to 23 months were questioned on what their child's "added sugar" consumption was in a 24-hour period.

There is no chemical difference between sugars that are found naturally in fruits, vegetables and milk and sugars that are added to food products during processing or preparation. The earlier patient is introduces to high sugar consumption, the heavier the consequences he or she will face during the life.

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According to both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association, children under the age of 2 shouldn't consume foods or drinks with added sugars at all. Those who were between 19 and 23 months were found to consume an average of more than 7 teaspoons of added sugar on a given day. The measured amount of extra sugar reportedly consumed by the children in the study was based entirely on the parent's memory. "These data may be relevant to the upcoming 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans".

This tracks (pdf) with an increase in U.S. sugar intake broadly: In 1970, Americans ate 123 pounds of sugar per year, and today, the average American consumes nearly 152 pounds of sugar per year. With age the sugar consumption rose. For adult men, the limit is 9 teaspoons or less of added sugar per day. At age 6-11 months, just over 60 percent of babies consumed added sugar on a given day, averaging just under 1 teaspoon.

Federal dietary guidelines don't now include recommendations for that age group.

"The easiest way to reduce added sugars in your own diet and your kids' diet is to choose foods that you know don't have them, like fresh fruits and vegetables", Herrick said.

Researchers at the CDC wanted to study the sugar intake of kids under two. Other studies have identified ready-to-eat cereals, bakery items and other desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, yogurt and candy to be significant sources of added sugar in children's diets.

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