Regular readers of The PediaBlog recognize sugar as the principle villain in the overweight/obesity epidemic happening in the United States and abroad. Sugar is also the chief culprit contributing to pediatric tooth decay. In fact, some researchers go so far as to call sugar “toxic.” There seems to be very little doubt that most of us, but especially our children, consume far too much of it. A new report from the American Heart Association finds that the average American child consumes 19 teaspoons (80 grams) of sugar every day, mostly from sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, and sports drinks), cakes, and cookies. To put this in context, a 12-ounce serving of soda contains about 10 teaspoons (40 grams and 160 calories) of sugar.

More sugar in the diet means more calories are eaten and more body fat is deposited not just under the skin, but also in blood vessels and vital organs as abnormal blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides are produced and accumulate. And, as our readers know, there is more to this story:

Added sugars contribute to a diet that is energy dense but nutrient poor and increase risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity-related cancers, and dental caries.

 

Because of the strong association between sugar consumption and the increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, the AHA is advising dramatic reductions of added sugars in children’s diets:

  • Children over age 2 years should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar each day.
  • Children should not drink more than one 8-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage per week.
  • Children under 2 years should avoid consuming any added sugar since they need nutrient-rich diets and are developing taste preferences.

 

This is a recommendation for all children, regardless of their current BMI — high or low. The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents can start taking action now:

The AHA recommends parents watch food labels for added sugar in the form of fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, honey, lactose and sucrose. In July 2018, they will be able to see added sugar amounts listed on the labels.

“Until then, the best way to avoid added sugars in your child’s diet is to serve mostly foods that are high in nutrition, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish, and to limit foods with little nutritional value,” Dr. Vos said.

 

More about sugar on The PediaBlog here.

 

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