Study Says Kids Eat Way Too Much Sugar: Here Are Some 'Healthy' Culprits

By Tanya Diente, Parent Herald June 12, 07:39 pm

A new study reveals that toddlers in America are eating way too much added sugar in their diet, more than the amount recommended by the American Heart Association.

Sugar Intake

According to the AHA, children below 2 years old should not consume added sugars such as those found in baked goods, ready-to-eat cereals, yogurt, candy, and sugary drinks. These foods contribute to extra sugar consumption, which could then lead to obesity, asthma, cavities, and likelihood of heart disease.

However, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found contradicting results. They studied the diet of children below 2years old and noticed that added sugar consumption begins earlier in life and exceeds current recommendations.

Researchers surveyed the parents of 800 children ages 23 months to 6 years to determine their added sugar intake in a 24-hour period. The results show that 6 to 11 months old consume 61 percent of added sugar in their diet, while 99 percent of sugar consumed by 1 and 2-year-olds was added sugar.

Babies 19 to 23 months old consume an average of seven teaspoons of added sugar in a day. The recommended daily added sugar for children age 2 to 19 and for adult women are 6 teaspoons or less, and 9 teaspoons or less for adult men.

"Once kids start eating table food, they're often eating the same types of foods that Mom and Dad have in their diet, and other research has demonstrated that adults exceed recommendations for added sugar too," said Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist at the CDC.

Sugary Culprits

The study does not indicate which types of food contribute to added sugar intake. However, those foods commonly found in grocery aisles, such as ready-made juice, chocolate drinks, sodas, candies, and sports drinks, to name a few, are the culprits.

  • Sports drinks, for one, contain a high amount of added sugar since they are made to fuel or energize people during prolonged exercise. A 570 ml bottle contains an estimate of 8 teaspoons of sugar.
  • People often go for the peeled and ready-to-eat fruits in a can rather than buy fresh fruits. These fruit slices are preserved in sugary syrup.
  • The so-called healthy low-fat yogurt contains about 12 teaspoons of sugar.
  • A tablespoon of ketchup has 1 teaspoon of sugar while 2 tablespoons of barbeque sauce contain 3 teaspoons of added sugar.
  • Chocolate milk has an extra two teaspoons of added sugar for flavor.
  • Large flavored coffee contains 25 teaspoons of added sugar, which is triple the amount found in a 12 ounce of Coke.

Added sugars pose more health risks than those found naturally in fruits and vegetables because they contribute to caloric intake and displace nutritional components of foods. They often do not provide the nutrients found in foods that naturally contain sugar such as in apples or bananas. Herrick suggests that parents consume and feed their kids with sugar from vegetables and fruits instead.

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