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. To assess added sugar, researchers counted any calorie-containing sugars that were added to a food item, including cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey and other forms of sugar. Additional resources on infant and toddler nutrition are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The American Heart Association already recommends that children under the age of 2 avoid food with added sugars, including ready-to-eat cereals, baked goods, desserts, sugary drinks, yogurt, and candy.
Added sugar is sugar that's put in food during preparation or processing.
The study, conducted in Maryland, asked the parents of 800 children aged 6 to 23 months what their child's "added sugar" consumption was in a 24-hour period.
The researchers pointed out that toddlers really should be getting sugar from fruits and vegetables, not from foods with added sugar. "Our results show that added sugar consumption begins early in life and exceeds current recommendations". Plenty of added sugar in a child's diet can also lead to unhealthy choices in food as an adult.
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That oldest group consumed an average of 7.1 teaspoons of added sugar each day - more than the amount of sugar in a Snickers bar.
"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.
Herrick said the findings could have implications for the upcoming revision of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Added sugar consumption rose with age. However soon to be developed is the 2020-2025 edition that will outline the recommended amounts of sugars and fats children under 2 should consume. By 19 to 23 months, 99% of children ate an average of over seven teaspoons of added sugar on a given day. 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. Regardless of the recommendations, most people in the USA eat more than this limit, research shows.
Researchers at the CDC wanted to study the sugar intake of kids under two. Other studies have suggested added sugar consumption among American children has declined over the years. Since 1960, around 190,000 people have taken part in the study in total.