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American Heart Association releases new sugar guidelines for children

By alex yosifov (originally posted to Flickr as candy girl) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


The American Heart Association has released its first-ever guidelines for how much added sugar a child should consume in a day.

The guidelines say children between the ages of two and 18 should consume less than six teaspoons of added sugar a day, and no more than eight ounces of sugary beverages a week. Children under age 2 should never have added sugar.


The typical American child eats about triple the recommended amount of added sugars, half from food and half from drinks, according to the AHA.


“Right now in the United States a kid is more likely to eat a food with added sugar than to eat a fruit or vegetable,” said Sam Gidding,  cardiology division head at AI duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington. 


The Harvard School of Public Health recently released a study saying a typical American eats and drinks 22 teaspoons' worth of added sugar each day, adding an additional 350 calories a day to a person's diet.

A 2014 study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine showed that people with diets high in added sugars have increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

“And people who eat too much sugar or added sugars are much more likely to develop heart disease,” according to Gidding.   

He said foods with naturally occurring sugars -like fruit- are better than foods with added sugars because they also contain vitamins and minerals. Foods with added sugar tend to have little nutritional value and can also lead to overeating.    


Children who eat packaged foods can easily eat more than the recommended six teaspoons of sugar a day.


A single tablespoon of ketchup has one teaspoon of sugar in it. A one-cup bowl of Fruit Loops has 3 teaspoons of sugar. A 12 ounce can of soda contains roughly 10 teaspoons of sugar -nearly double the recommended daily limit.   


Even though 6 teaspoons is the recommended limit for children, Gidding said there’s no reason you shouldn’t strive to entirely remove added sugar from your child's diet. 

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