Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Toddlers are eating too much sugar: CDC study

Toddlers are eating too much sugar: CDC study

America's toddlers are getting too much sugar, according to a new study. While 60 percent of those between the ages of 6 and 11 months old were found to eat added sugar on a given day. CDC report warns that toddlers are facing the highest level of added sugars in their diets - and it will pay off dearly during the life of the generation to come.

Excessive sugar intake can lead to obesity, risk factors for heart disease, and cavities. 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. 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.

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".

How can people reduce their intake of added sugars?

The study is limited in some ways because sugar consumption was measured based on parent's memory of what their child ate during a short period of time. Regardless of the recommendations, most people in the US eat more than this limit, research shows. That's perhaps why, unlike the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the 2020-2025 edition will include dietary recommendations for infants and toddlers under two. Energy and protein bars can also contain a lot of sugar, and it's also found in the condiments we add to foods: each tablespoon of ketchup contains one teaspoon of sugar. By 19 to 23 months, 99% of children ate an average of over seven teaspoons of added sugar on a given day.

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The current study does not indicate which types of food contributed to children's added sugar intake, though the research team plans to examine sources of added sugar in the future.

Federal dietary guidelines don't now include recommendations for that age group. 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.

The team plans to further investigate the data, including examining trends over time. Factoring in added sugar taken with coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages, the number gets bumped up to 47 percent.

Kirsten Herrick will present this research on Sunday, June 10, from 4:45-5 p.m.in the Hynes Convention Center, Room 306 (abstract). As such, the findings presented should be considered preliminary until a peer-reviewed publication is available.

The CDC just recently launched a website that gives parents advice on diets that limit certain foods and drinks for toddlers and babies.

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