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Young children consume too much added sugar, according to a study

    Abdulaziz Sobh
    By Abdulaziz Sobh

    Categories: Health


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    Young children in the much added are eating too much added sugar, and the problem only gets worse as they get older, a new study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control found.

    Extra consumption of sugar has been linked to high levels of obesity, tooth decay, asthma, and heart disease risk factors later in life. It has also been associated with higher levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure. Added sugar is especially bad for children, as it establishes dietary preferences that could lead them to make poor nutritional choices later in life.

    The American Heart Association already recommends that children under the age of 2 avoid foods with added sugars, including ready-to-eat cereals, baked goods, desserts, sugary drinks, yogurt, and sweets. But researchers at the CDC found that some parents do not seem to be following those guidelines.

    "This is the first time we have observed the aggregate consumption of sugar in children under 2 years of age," study lead author Kirsten Herrick, a CDC nutrition epidemiologist, told ABC News.

    The study, conducted in Maryland, asked parents of 800 children between 6 and 23 months what their son's "extra sugar" consumption was in a 24-hour period. Herrick and his team found that the amount of added sugar increased along with a child's age.

    For children 6 to 11 months, 61 percent of the sugar in their diet was added sugar. But by the time the children were between 1 and 2 years old, that amount was even greater: 98 to 99 percent of the sugar the children ate was added.

    And that added sugar added: the youngest between 19 and 23 months, averaged about seven teaspoons of added sugar per day, more than the amount in a Kit Kat bar, the study found.

    The study is limited in some way because sugar consumption was measured based on the parents' memory of what their children ate for a short period of time. In addition, the study has not been peer-reviewed. It was shared at a medical meeting.

    The research team also plans to examine the specific sources of added sugar that young children consume in the future.

    But researchers have known for a long time that children should get their daily sugar from vegetables and fruits, no added sugar, which does not contribute more than calories. An apple, for example, contains natural sugar and good fiber and nutrients.

    But large amounts of added sugar can be hidden in seemingly healthy foods: a single serving of yogurt with fruit on the bottom can contain up to six teaspoons of sugar. In a regular 8-ounce serving of apple or orange juice, there are 5.5 teaspoons of sugar, on average. The dried fruits are also loaded with sugar: there are 21 teaspoons in a cup of dried fruit alone. The energy and protein bars can also contain a lot of sugar, and are also found in the condiments we add to the food: each spoonful of ketchup contains a teaspoon of sugar.

    Although the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) 2015-2020. UU They state that Americans older than 2 years old should consume less than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugar, but they do not yet include recommendations for children under 2 years of age.

    Herrick said the CDC has recently launched a website that "makes some recommendations on what foods and beverages to limit in the diets of infants and young children."

    Parents can expect recommendations for young children to be established for the DGA guidelines 2020-2025, but for now, the goal should always be less added sugar.