Added Sugars and Children; What you Need to Know

Whether it’s in soda, candy or cookies, everyone knows that children love sugar. Unfortunately, children’s love affair with sugar begins earlier than you might think; nearly all toddlers and infants in the United States are believed to regularly consume products with added sugars.

Surveying Sweet Tooths 

This is the finding of a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The authors of this report relied on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reach their conclusions. Thanks to the CDC, the report was able to determine that an astounding 98.3% of toddlers (children between the ages of 12 and 23 months) consumed added sugars in their diet. The same could also be said of 60.6% of infants, or children 11 months old and younger. 

The CDC data was collected between the years 2011 and 2016. Specifically, the findings presented by the study were based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys during this period. Data from roughly 1,200 infants and toddlers was analyzed by these surveys. 

Some highlights revealed by the study are shown below: 

  • On an average day, a vast majority (84.4%) of young children consume products with added sugars.
  • Infants consumed slightly less than a teaspoon of added sugars on a daily basis. For toddlers, this figure jumped to 5.8 teaspoons.
  • In terms of demographics, 99.6% of non-Hispanic white toddlers consumed added sugars. The same could be said about 94.1% of non-Hispanic black toddlers.
  • In terms of total levels of consumption, the authors found that black toddlers consumed the most added sugars at 8.2 teaspoons per day. Conversely, the lowest levels were found among Asian toddlers, who consumed 3.7 teaspoons on a daily basis. 

In light of her team’s findings, study senior author Kirsten Herrick stated that parents should be conscientious about what their children eat. “For infants and toddlers, the recommendation is to avoid added sugars altogether. Parents can offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to water, rather than sugar-sweetened beverages,” stated Herrick.

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