Kids Should Take Less Than 6 Teaspoons of Sugar a Day

Children aged 2-18 should have no more than 100 calories from added sugar daily.Children aged 2-18 should have no more than 100 calories from added sugar daily.

Sugar intake has become a major concern globally, with numerous studies linking high sugar consumption to increased risk of obesity and related diseases.

In an attempt to help tackle the problem, the American Heart Association has issued new recommendations for added sugar intake among children and adolescents. Added sugars are sugars and syrups - including fructose, glucose, and high-fructose corn syrup - that are added to foods and drinks during processing or preparation, mainly for taste and preservation.

Given that added sugars are present in candy, cakes, soda, and many other foods and drinks that are attractive to children and teenagers, it is perhaps no surprise their sugar intake is so high.

Based on a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), children and adolescents need to cut their sugar intake dramatically: those aged 2-18 should have no more than 100 calories from added sugar daily - the equivalent to 6 teaspoons.

What is more, children under the age of 2 should not consume any added sugars at all, according to the new guidelines, reported.

This, say the authors, is because children of this age do not require the calorie intake of older children and adults.

Additionally, they point out that taste preferences develop early in life, so limiting intake of added sugars before the age of 2 may reduce preference for unhealthy foods later on.

The AHA statement was recently published in the journal Circulation.

“Our target recommendation is the same for all children between the ages of 2 and 18 to keep it simple for parents and public health advocates,” says lead author Dr. Miriam Vos, professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.

“For most children, eating no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugars per day is a healthy and achievable target.”

Vos and colleagues reached their new recommendations by conducting an in-depth analysis of all scientific research that has assessed how consumption of added sugars affects children’s health.

The results showed that high intake of added sugars during childhood can lead to the development of heart disease risk factors, including obesity and high blood pressure.

“Children who eat foods loaded with added sugars tend to eat fewer healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products that are good for their heart health,” notes Vos. The authors note that one of the most common sources of added sugars among children is sugar-sweetened drinks, such as soda and energy drinks. A single 12-ounce can of cola contains more than 9 teaspoons of sugar.