American toddlers are consuming too much added sugar, a new study has found.
The report from the CDC, published on Monday, found on average that children between the ages of 19 and 23 months old are consuming more than seven teaspoons of added sugar every day.
While there are no official government guidelines, multiple US agencies suggest kids under age two not consume foods or drinks with added sugars at all.
Packaged baby food, fruit-flavored drinks and cereals are just a few of the foods the kids are eating, containing more sugar that some chocolate bars.
The researchers warn that eating foods with added sugar at a young age can create behaviors that follow children throughout their lives.
With obesity rates at 14 percent among children between two to four years old, and continuing to rise, the team hopes that parents can become more informed about the foods their kids are eating to help curb the growing epidemic.
A new report from the CDC has found that US toddlers are consuming too much added sugar, with 99 percent between the ages of 19 and 23 months old having more than seven teaspoons of added sugar every day
The study was conducted in Maryland between 2011 and 2014 as part of the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
It included more than 800 infants and toddlers between the ages of six months and 23 months.
Parents were surveyed and asked to write what they fed their children in a 24-hour period.
The researchers excluded naturally occurring sugars that appear in foods such as fruit but included items such as high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar and honey.
OBESITY ON THE RISE IN AMERICA’S YOUNGEST CHILDREN
The rate of childhood obesity has tripled since the 1970s, affecting one in five children in the US and 14 percent of those between ages two and four years old, according to CDC data released in February.
Childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among parents in the US, topping drug abuse and smoking.
Obesity continues to plague more than one-third of adults in the US, and experts have warned that that proportion will only grow as younger generations do.
Over the last two decades, the US has implemented countless awareness programs to try to combat the obesity epidemic.
Former first lady Michelle Obama became a mascot for healthier children while her husband was in office, spearheading the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign, designed to motivate children to eat healthier and stay active in an effort to promote overall health.
But in December of last year, the US Department of Agriculture announced that it would relax the school lunch guidelines she championed – requiring more fresh fruits and vegetables and low-sugar dining options – in favor of new rules that would allow sweetened milk and sodium rich entrees.
Results showed that not only did many of the children consume more than the recommended amount of added sugar for adults, but that consumption spiked as the child grew older.
About 61 percent of children between six months and 11 months consumed added sugar, although just under one teaspoon per day.
For toddlers between 12 months and 18 months, the percentage consuming added sugar swelled to 98 percent – at an average of 5.5 teaspoons per day, about the equivalent of the amount of sugar in a Snickers bar.
By the time the children reached 19 months to 23 months, 99 percent of them were ingesting an average of more than seven teaspoons of added sugar per day.
That’s about the same amount of sugar found in a Milky Way bar.
Many of the foods the kids were eating came in the form of packaged baby foods, cereals, fruit-flavored drinks and standard sweets such as cookies.
‘This is the first time we have looked at added sugar consumption among children less than two years old,’ said lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist at the CDC.
‘Our results show that added sugar consumption begins early in life and exceeds current recommendations.’
Both the American Pediatric Association and the American Heart Association recommend that children under age two not consume foods or drinks with added sugars at all.
Experts say eating too much sugar has been linked to several health problems include asthma, cavities, raising levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and increasing your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
The US government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans did not provide recommendations for children under age two but the 2020-2025 edition is expected to contain recommendations.
‘The easiest way to reduce added sugars in your own diet and your kids’ diet is to choose foods that you know don’t have them, like fresh fruits and vegetables,’ Herrick said.