American Toddlers Eat So Much 'Added Sugar' That They Exceed Adult Recommendations

Wednesday, 13 Jun, 2018

Americans are advised to keep added sugars to less than 10 percent of their total diet.

Accordingly, kids between 1 and 2 years of age were consuming added sugar nearly exclusively and the consumed amount is equal to 7 teaspoons of sugar per day.

The researchers analyzed data from 800 infants and toddlers between 6 and 23 months old in the 2011-2014 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. High sugar consumption is bad for children specifically as it sets poor diet preferences that may lead to them developing bad nutritional choices later in life. The finding came as a result of a study done on children between the ages of 6 and 23 months old. 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.

Those aged between two to 19 years old as well as adult women should not eat more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day, rising to nine for men. That's more than the amount found in a Snickers bar. While around 60 percent of babies between ages 6 months to 11 months consumed an average of 1 teaspoon of added sugars, 98 percent of children aged between 12 to 18 months were consuming an average of 5.5 teaspoons of sugar a day.

Consuming added sugar has been linked to a host of health problems including skyrocketing obesity rates and increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. The research titled "Consumption of added sugars among USA infants aged 6-23 months, 2011-2014" was presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in Boston on June 10. "These data may be relevant to the upcoming 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans".

In the future, researchers will investigate the specific foods children consume their added sugar.

"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 advises.

The researchers say that at present there are no specific recommendations for children under the age of 2 years in the United States government's 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

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. Past studies have pointed towards breakfast cereals, cakes and desserts, sugary drinks, yogurt and candy as the biggest culprits.