Children are well known to have a penchant for sugary diet – anything that is sweet is the favourite choice for children.

Children want to consume sugar at a very unhealthy level not knowing that excessive in-take of sugar has debilitating effects on their health.

The America Heart Association (AHA), a panel of health and nutrition experts, suggests that children between the ages of two years and 18 years should consume no more than six teaspoons (30 millilitres) of added sugar a day, according to the organisation’s statement published on August 22 in the journal, “Circulation”.

Based on the above suggestion, the AHA has released three recommendations to guide parents in regulating sugar content of their wards’ diets.

“There is little room in a child’s diet for added sugars, because they need calories from vegetables, fruits, protein sources, whole grains and dairy to grow up healthy,” said Dr. Miriam Vos, the chairperson of the committee that wrote the scientific statement, and an associate professor of paediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Added sugar can, however, be used in small amounts to improve the taste of foods that are healthy and rich in nutrition — such as whole grain cereals, flavoured milk or yogurt. To make these foods more appealing for children, however, there are loads of added sugar in sugary drinks, cookies, cakes and candies, foods which have little to no nutritional value, Vos said.

Scientific evidence has shown that excessive added sugar in diets affects a child’s or teen’s risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, promote weight gain and reduce HDL “good” cholesterol.

Three new recommendations:

The new report set a single target of 100 calories daily of added sugar, an amount that is easy for parents to understand and is healthy for all children in the age range.

The second recommendation advised that children under age 2 have no added sugar in their diets.

The recommendation called for children and teens to limit the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages they drink to no more than one 8-ounce (240 millilitres) beverage a week.

Since, it may be difficult to accurately measure the crude sugar content consumed by these kids, to help children and teens meet these new recommendations, an important first step for parents is to stop buying foods and drinks that are high in added sugar, Vos suggested.

That way, there is less of it in the home, she added.

Switching to less-processed snacks like fruits, vegetables and nuts can also help reduce kids’ sugar consumption. To curb young children’s consumption of sugary drinks, it’s helpful to simply stop buying these beverages, which makes them less available at home and also saves money, Vos told Live Science.

Source: Live Science


Author: Dotun Obatuyi

My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.