Added Sugars and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Children

A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association


I found this article interesting for three reasons and wanted to share it with you.


One – The reasonable recommendation of the AHA is that children consume less than 25 g (100 calories or 6 teaspoons) of added sugars per day.  This is what is recommended the by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for preschool-age children today recommends – so there is consistency in the research.


Two – Avoid added sugars for children less than 2 years of age. Some research shows children’s taste for foods is generally formed by age 2. So avoiding sugar at this age may prevent the sugar cravings or what we sometimes refer to as the ‘sweet tooth’.


Three – It is prevention for cardiovascular disease risk in children and well worth the effort.


What is added sugar?


Added sugar is hidden in all kinds of processed foods. A single tablespoon of ketchup has about one teaspoon of sugar. A chewy granola bar with chocolate chips has almost two teaspoons of sugar. A single cup of apple juice or a container of strawberry yogurt would take up your entire recommended daily allowance.


Added sugars go by many names when they are listed on nutrition labels of processed foods. Some of their aliases include high fructose corn syrup, anhydrous dextrose, maltose, evaporated cane juice and fruit juice concentrates.


It is important to read food labels when grocery shopping for your family.


A little sugary treat once in a while is okay, but certainly not a regular diet of it with processed foods.


Here is the Abstract from the ADA and what they concluded about too much sugar for children.


BACKGROUND: Poor lifestyle behaviors are leading causes of preventable diseases globally. Added sugars contribute to a diet that is energy dense but nutrient poor and increase risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity-related cancers, and dental caries.


METHODS AND RESULTS: For this American Heart Association scientific statement, the writing group reviewed and graded the current scientific evidence for studies examining the cardiovascular health effects of added sugars on children. The available literature was subdivided into 5 broad subareas: effects on blood pressure, lipids, insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and obesity.


CONCLUSIONS: Associations between added sugars and increased cardiovascular disease risk factors among US children are present at levels far below current consumption levels. Strong evidence supports the association of added sugars with increased cardiovascular disease risk in children through increased energy intake, increased adiposity, and dyslipidemia. The committee found that it is reasonable to recommend that children consume ≤25 g (100 cal or ≈6 teaspoons) of added sugars per day and to avoid added sugars for children <2 years of age. Although added sugars most likely can be safely consumed in low amounts as part of a healthy diet, few children achieve such levels, making this an important public health target.


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