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Sugar and Your Child: How Much is TOO Much?

How much sugar does your child consume each day? Chances are, it’s a lot more than the new recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) about specific sugar limits for kids. The AHA states that children and teens should consume less than 6 teaspoons of “added sugars” a day and drink no more than 8 ounces of sugary beverages a week. What’s more, children under age 2 shouldn’t have any added sugars in their diets.

The typical American child currently consumes about 19 teaspoons of added sugar daily, which is three times the amount recommended by the AHA. Most of this added sugar comes from soda, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, cakes and cookies. Parents can find out if there are added sugars in their children’s food by reading food labels to see if high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice, and other sugars are added. Added sugars can also show up in foods like ketchup, barbeque sauce, hamburger buns, and salad dressings.

Research has shown that added sugars can harm your growing child’s overall health. Added sugars have been linked to cardiovascular disease – the No. 1 cause of death in the world. Diets high in added sugars have been connected to heart risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels.  Added sugars are harmful to your child’s dental health, too. Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. Limiting the amount of sugar your entire family eats is good for your teeth and key to your overall health.

These new AHA recommendations make it easier for you to make healthier choices for your kids.  Now you know exactly how much to sugary foods to allow.  You can also start to develop their taste for healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish. The eating habits formed in childhood can last a lifetime, so the sooner you start limiting those sugary foods, the healthier your children’s food choices will be as they get older. 

TeethFirst! Creating healthy smiles for a lifetime.