Toddlers could be consuming more sugar than recommended for adults, study finds

Too sweet

Almost 98 to 99 percent of the sugar consumed by 1- and 2-year-olds was added sugar.

And yet new data presented this week (June 10) at the American Society for Nutrition's annual meeting show that American infants are consuming excessive amounts of added sugar in their diets, much more than the amounts now recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) and other medical organizations.

The added sugar included cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and honey. According to the CDC children under the age of 2 should not get added sugar at all. But that affinity for the sweet stuff starts as early as infancy, with some babies consuming added sugar that exceeds maximum levels recommended for adults, US researchers report.

The study comes at a time when one in six children and adolescents in the US are obese.

As their names suggest, the former is added to foods as they are processed or prepared while the latter is found naturally in sources like fruits, vegetables, and milk. Plus, what kids eat in early childhood shapes their food choices later in life.

And that added sugar added up: the oldest toddlers in the study, aged between 19 to 23 months, averaged about seven teaspoons of added sugar per day, more than the amount in a Kit Kat bar, the study found. In the survey, parents were asked to track everything their children ate in a 24-hour period. That's perhaps why, unlike the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the 2020-2025 edition will include dietary recommendations for infants and toddlers under two. It is a source of added sugars and will influence the taste for a lifetime.


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

It was found 60 percent of children began consuming added sugar before their first birthday.

The 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that sweetened beverages are the major source of added sugars in typical USA diets-in fact, they account for 47% of all added sugars consumed by Americans. For adult men, the limit is 9 teaspoons or less of added sugar per day. As for children under the age of 2, it is recommended that they avoid eating foods containing added sugar altogether.

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. Factoring in added sugar taken with coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages, the number gets bumped up to 47 percent. It is the easiest way to supply the energy, however added sugars come with the catch - the "sugar tolerance" will be formed eventually.

The CDC added sugar study did have an explicit limitation.

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