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American Toddlers Eat So Much 'Added Sugar' That They Exceed Adult Recommendations

Jun 12, 2018 01:20 AM EDT
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Children love sugar, but they may be getting fed so much more than a healthy amount, according to a new study.

It turns out, the average toddler's intake of added sugar even exceeds the recommended amount of added sugar for adults.

Study Observes Toddlers' Added Sugar Consumption

The research, presented at the annual American Society for Nutrition meeting during Nutrition 2018, revealed that from a sample of toddlers 19 to 23 months old in the United States, 99 percent ate an average of a little more than seven teaspoons of added sugar every day.

"This is the first time we have looked at added sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old," lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nutritional epidemiologist, says in a statement. "Our results show that added sugar consumption begins early in life and exceeds current recommendations."

The researchers also found that 60 percent of children get added sugar in their diet before turning a year old.

The Dangers Of Added Sugar — And What To Do About It

Added sugar is sugar that's put in food during preparation or processing. While it doesn't actually have a chemical difference from natural sugar in fruits, vegetables, and dairy, the added sugar are reportedly more harmful due to its tendency of displacing nutritional components and adding significant calories to the diet.

These properties of added sugar contributes to its effects. It's been linked to obesity, asthma, dental caries, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Plenty of added sugar in a child's diet can also lead to unhealthy choices in food as an adult.

WHO describes childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges of the entire 21st century, a problem that is present around the world, especially in urban areas. In 2016, the number of overweight children below 5 years old is estimated to be more than 41 million.

More alarmingly, overweight children are more likely to be overweight as adults and develop noncommunicable diseases related to it. It is, therefore, extremely important to address the problem of obesity in children.

One of the ways of doing that is tackling children's diet.

"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.

Try inspecting children's drinks. The Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020 reveals that sugar-sweetened beverages make up 39 percent of added sugars in an average American's diet. Factoring in added sugar taken with coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages, the number gets bumped up to 47 percent.

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