The American Heart Association just released the first-ever added sugar limits for children and teens. The new guidelines recommend no more than 25 grams of added sugar (6 teaspoons or about 100 calories per day).
The added sugar recommendations are based on numerous studies that show diets rich in added sugars not only increase risk for heart disease, they elevate risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other chronic conditions. The new guidelines were established for all children between the ages of 2 and 18 years old.
How Much Is too Much?
Current intake of added sugars in U.S. children’s diets is about 80 grams per day (20 teaspoons) or 16 percent of the total energy in the diet. That’s more than three times what the AHA now recommends. The main sources of added sugars in kids’ diets are soda, fruit or energy drinks, cake and cookies, the report found.
According to the AHA, added sugars are any sugars, including table sugar, fructose and honey, coconut sugar, concentrated fruit juices or other types of sweeteners used in processing and preparing foods or beverages.
The statement also said children younger than 2 years should not consume foods or beverages with added sugars at all. In addition, children and teens aged 2 to 18 should consume no more than 8 ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks a week.
The statement, published Aug. 22 in the journal Circulation, is based on a review of available scientific research on how sugar affects children’s health.
How to Identify Added Sugars in Foods
Starting in July 2018, food products sold in the United States will have to list the amount of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel. Until then, you need to look at the ingredient list to see if added sugar is one of the first few ingredients. Here is a list of some 46 different names manufacturers use for added sugars in their products.