Until age 2, children should consume no added sugars at all, and
between ages 2 and 18 they should limit added sugars to 25 grams per
day, the organization says.
"I think its become clear over time that heart health and prevention
of cardiovascular disease starts in childhood," said Dr. Miriam Vos,
lead author of a statement from the AHA published in the journal
Circulation. "We’ve been gaining more information on sugar over
Currently, the average child in the U.S. gets 50 to 75 grams of
added sugar per day, or about two to three times the recommended
amount, Vos said.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in
Boston, the average can of sugar-sweetened soda or fruit punch
contains the equivalent of about 40 grams, or 10 teaspoons, of table
Many common breakfast foods such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereals,
cereal bars, instant oatmeal with added flavoring, and pastries also
contain high amounts of added sugars, the school points out on its
Typical government and medical recommendations about sugar intake
can be difficult for parents to understand since they are often
suggested as portions of daily calories, said Vos, of Emory
University and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Sugar can influence people's health in a number of ways, Vos told
Reuters Health. For example, she said, it's tied to weight gain,
higher cholesterol levels, worse blood sugar control and fatty liver
"All of those are known – the cholesterol levels, weight gain,
insulin resistance and fatty liver – to increase cardiovascular risk
in adulthood," she said.
In the new recommendation, the group says toddlers to teens should
stick to less than 25 grams of added sugar per day, which is
equivalent to about six teaspoons of regular sugar.
"The 25 grams is a safe amount for children between 2 and 18
(years)," said Vos. "We chose a single amount to keep it simple for
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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 so rapidly (and) need so
many nutrients that they don’t have room in their diets for
non-nutritious foods," said Vos.
According to Vos, 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.
In July 2018, the U.S. will start requiring food labels to
specifically list the amount of added sugars.
Since children currently get more added sugar than recommended, Vos
said the transition to a lower amount may be difficult for parents
"I think that having a specific amount to shoot for will help," she
said. "It will help not only families, but people who take care of
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