Toddlers getting too much sugar in diet

Added sugar consumption was highest among non-Hispanic black children and lowest among non-Hispanic white children in kids aged between 12 and 23 months.

While the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) does not include specific guidelines for children under the age of 2, the upcoming 2020-2025 edition is set to include dietary recommendations for infants and toddlers.

A majority of children begin consuming added sugar even before their first birthday, suggest researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Eating foods with added sugar leads to a number of health conditions, including obesity, cavities and possibly heart disease. She presented the findings on Sunday 10 June at Nutrition 2018, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held in Boston.

Now, according to the CDC, all these pediatric illnesses are triggered by a higher added sugar consumption than normal in toddlers across the USA and the experts recommend parent to avoid feeding their children with products that are known to contain added sugar, such as sweetened cereals, candies, sweet sodas, fruity yogurts, and so on. The team analysed the amount of sugar consumed by checking on amounts of cane sugar, honey, other forms of sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup etc. Sugars found naturally in fruits, vegetables and milk were not included in the analysis as were artificial zero-calorie sweeteners. The children were aged between 6 and 23 months. Ninety-nine percent of toddlers ages 19-23 months took in an average of 7 teaspoons of added sugar on a given 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. They also found that the amount and consumption went up dramatically as the child grew older. This exceeded the daily recommended limit (for added sugar) which is 6 teaspoons or less for children aged 2 to 19 as well as adult women.

The latest nutritional guidelines for the US, which were updated in 2015 and will be reviewed in 2020, do not give recommendations for children under the age of two.

How can people reduce their intake of added sugars? Regardless of the recommendations, most people in the USA eat more than this limit, research shows.

Herrick said the best way to cut sugar from the diets of children and adults is to "choose foods that you know don't have them, like fresh fruits and vegetables". These could be from bakery foods or ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, desserts or sweets and candy.

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