American toddlers consume way too much added sugar, says study

Leslie Hanson
June 14, 2018

Children love sugar, but they may be getting fed so much more than a healthy amount, according to a new study. Ninety-nine percent of toddlers ages 19-23 months took in an average of 7 teaspoons of added sugar on a given day. These added sugars raise the daily calorie intake of the child. Too much sugar during pregnancy adversely impacts child cognition, while excess sugar intake during adolescence has been associated with weight gain and cardiac risks, which include an increased risk of obesity and elevated blood pressure. Plenty of added sugar in a child's diet can also lead to unhealthy choices in food as an adult.

Children between 6 to 11 months consumed 61 percent of added sugar but when these kids reached the age between 1 to 2 years, the amount of added sugar consumed increased between 98 to 99 percent. The earlier patient is introduces to high sugar consumption, the heavier the consequences he or she will face during the life.

The study is expected to be presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting during Nutrition 2018.

Added sugars include any sugar used in processing or preparing foods and beverages, or any sugar added to food at the table.

This tracks (pdf) with an increase in United States 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.

The researchers explain that foods that contain added sugars are not beneficial for the body as they do not provide the benefits that fruits and vegetables that naturally contain sugars provide.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Kirsten Herrick, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently studied the diets of more than 800 toddlers between 6 and 23 months old.

The study is limited in some ways because sugar consumption was measured based on parent's memory of what their child ate during a short period of time.

From run-of-the-mill granulated white sugar to high fructose corn syrup, dietitian Dana Angelo White explained how "these sweeteners are a pure source of carbohydrate and have about 15 calories per teaspoon". By 19 to 23 months, 99% of children ate an average of over seven teaspoons of added sugar on a given day.

Consumption of added sugar among Americans has been a widely discussed subject.

Parents can expect recommendations for young children to be in place for the 2020-2025 DGA guidelines, but for now, less added sugar should always be the goal. This is more than the sugar contained in a bar of chocolate.

Despite these recommendations, however, a previous study shows that the majority of Americans consume more than what they're supposed to.

Researchers at the CDC wanted to study the sugar intake of kids under two.

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