ABC News recently reported that according to a study conducted by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), toddlers in America are eating too much added sugar… and the problem only gets worse as they get older.
“This is the first time we have looked at added sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old,” lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist from the CDC, told ABC News.
The study, conducted in Maryland, asked the parents of 800 children aged 6 to 23 months what their child’s “added sugar” consumption was in a 24-hour period. Herrick and her team found that the amount of added sugar increased along with a child’s age. (Considering the addictive nature of sugar, this is no real surprise.)
The study, conducted in Maryland, asked the parents of 800 children aged 6 to 23 months what their child’s “added sugar” consumption was in a 24-hour period. Herrick and her team found that the amount of added sugar increased along with a child’s age.
For 6- to 11-month-olds, 61 percent of sugar in their diet was added sugar and that number increased with age. Nearly 98 to 99 percent of the sugar consumed by 1- and 2-year-olds was added sugar.
The oldest toddlers in the study, aged between 19 to 23 months, averaged about seven teaspoons of added sugar per day, more than the amount in a Kit Kat bar, the study found.
The latest research raises fears on how early exposure to extra sugar — in foods like packaged cereals, baked goods, desserts, sugary drinks (including fruit juices) and candy — can contribute to long-term problems of obesity, diabetes, cavities, Alzheimer’s and asthma. It’s also been associated with higher cholesterol levels and elevated blood pressure.
Just diabetes alone carries with it some really terrible conditions including blindness, amputations and kidney failure.
How Much Added Sugar Is Too Much?
While the U.S. government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) states Americans over the age of 2 should consume less than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugar, they do not yet include recommendations for children under 2. However, the American Heart Association already recommends that children under the age of 2 avoid food with added sugars, including ready-to-eat cereals, baked goods, desserts, sugary drinks (fruit juices), yogurt, and candy.
Added sugars can include brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar (even the organic ones with the fancy names), and sucrose, according to the CDC.
Researchers have even found that sugar exposure during pregnancy can begin to affect a child before birth in a form of “metabolic imprinting” according to Gary Taubes, author of the book “The Case Against Sugar.”
Gut Bacteria Matter
We already know that an imbalance of gut microbes can lead to obesity. These microbes can train the immune system to prevent allergies and also help us digest and extract energy from food, which can influence weight gain.
For infants, changes begin in the gut each time foods are introduced. The first happens in breastfeeding, which adds a helpful bacteria called Bifidobacterium into the infant’s gut that helps digest complex sugars called oligosaccharides. The second change happens when solid foods are introduced and the baby is weaned, which creates a more adult complex of microbes, usually adding Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes.
In fact, there is evidence to suggest that weight differences begin to show at only a few months old when comparing formula-fed babies to breastfed babies and the differences in their gut microbes.
Toddlers do not shop for groceries. They cannot choose their dinner. They have no control of their diet. They 100% rely on us to choose well for them. Don’t we have a responsibility to do that job well?