Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that American children are consuming too much "added sugar" before they even reach their first birthday.
The researchers arrived at this finding after conducting a survey with parents and their children who were between the ages of 6 and 23 months old.
Too Much Added Sugar
Added sugars are sugar and syrups that are added to food products when they are processed or prepared. They do not include naturally occurring sugars such as those found in fruits, vegetables, and milk.
According to the American Heart Association, the major sources of added sugars for Americans are regular soft drinks, sugars, cookies, candies, ice creams, and cakes.
Eating too much foods containing added sugar has been associated with a number of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and even some cancers.
The new study conducted in Maryland involved over 800 children who were between the ages of 6 and 23 months old. These children took part in the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey or NHANES that took place from 2011 to 2014.
In the survey, researchers instructed parents to write down what they fed their children in a 24-hour period. In order to evaluate added sugar consumption, the researchers included any calorie-containing sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup but excluded naturally occurring sugars such as fruits.
According to the results, the researchers found that many of the children in the study ate more added sugar than the recommended amount for adults. They also found that the amount and consumption went up dramatically as the child grew older.
About 85 percent of them were found to eat added sugar in a given day. While 60 percent of those between the ages of 6 and 11 months old were found to eat added sugar on a given day. Those who were between 19 and 23 months were found to consume an average of more than 7 teaspoons of added sugar on a given day.
Recommended Amount Of Added Sugar Per Day
According to the American Heart Association, female adults are recommended to eat no more than 100 calories or 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Men, on the other hand, need 150 calories or about 9 or less teaspoons per day. As for children under the age of 2, it is recommended that they avoid eating foods containing added sugar altogether.
Despite these recommendations, however, a previous study shows that the majority of Americans consume more than what they're supposed to.
"This is the first time we have looked at added sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old," said Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist at the CDC and the lead author of the study. "Our results show that added sugar consumption begins early in life and exceeds current recommendations. These data may be relevant to the upcoming 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans."
The study is expected to be presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting during Nutrition 2018.