Study: U.S. toddlers consuming too much added sugar

Eating too many added sugars has been linked to increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

And according to a recent study, Americans’ addiction to sugar may be starting before little ones reach their first birthday.

The study looked at 806 children between the ages of 6-23 months old.

Researchers found that 99 percent of the toddlers between 19-23 months of age consumed an average of more than seven teaspoons of added sugar each day – more than what is recommended for a child over the age of two.

Jennifer Hyland, a registered dietician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s did not take part in the research, but said it showed that toddlers are taking in much more sugar than they should.

“In kids under a year old – ages 6-11 months – the study showed they were actually consuming about 60 percent of their sugar from added sugar,” she said. “That means they’re not getting it from fruits and vegetables naturally, but they’re getting it from the foods that have the sugar added to it.”

Hyland said parents are often surprised by how much sugar is hiding in foods that might seem healthy at first glance.

She said added sugars often hide in places such as juice, yogurt, granola bars, applesauce and even peanut butter.

Hyland urges parents take the time to read the nutrition labels to see just how much added sugar is in products and whenever possible, stick to whole, non-processed foods.

She said it’s important to get children’s taste buds off to a healthy start, rather than getting them used to added sugar at such a young age.

“Foods like unsweetened apple sauce or natural peanut butter are great healthy, nutritious options, but you have to beware of the other alternatives that unfortunately have the sugar added to them,” said Hyland. “If kids are started on added sugars too young, that’s what they grow up being used to and that’s what they end up liking.”

Hyland said it’s recommended that children under the age of two should have no added sugar and children over the age of two should have no more than 25 grams or six teaspoons of added sugar per day.

She said that natural sugar, like that found in fresh fruit is okay and does not count against the daily limit.

Results of the study were presented at Nutrition 2018.