American Heart Association sets sugar limits for kids and teens

August 25, 2016 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

American Heart Association sets sugar limits for kids and teens

The vast majority of children and teens should consume less than six teaspoons (about 25 grams) of added sugar each day, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Until age 2, children should consume no added sugars at all. Kids between ages 2 and 18 should limit added sugars to 25 grams per day, the organization says.

It has become clear over time that heart health and prevention of cardiovascular disease starts in childhood.

Currently, the average child in the U.S. gets 50 to 75 grams of added sugar per day (12 to 19 teaspoons worth), about two to three times the recommended amount.

The average can of sugar-sweetened soda or fruit punch contains the equivalent of about 40 grams, or 10 teaspoons, of table sugar. Many common breakfast foods such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, cereal bars, flavoured instant oatmeal and pastries also contain high amounts of added sugars.

Sugar can influence people's health in a number of ways. Excess sugar intake is tied to weight gain, higher blood cholesterol, poor blood sugar control and fatty liver disease, all risk factors

For children under 2 years of age, the AHA says no amount of added sugar is acceptable.

Children under the age of 2 are growing rapidly and need many nutrients so they don’t have room in their diets for non-nutritious foods.

Parents: Keep track of the sweet stuff.

According to the researchers, the "total sugar content" shown on U.S. food labels is usually all added sugar, except in dairy and fruit items, which contain some natural sugars (e.g. lactose in yogurt).

In July 2018, the U.S. will start requiring food labels to specifically list the amount of added sugars.

Source: Circulation, August 22, 2016.

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