Toddlers getting too much sugar in diet

Added sugar is sugar that's put in food during preparation or processing.

America's toddlers are getting too much sugar, according to a new study.

The latest research raises fears on how early exposure to extra sugar - in foods like packaged cereals, baked goods, desserts sugary drinks and candy - can contribute to long-term problems of obesity, diabetes, cavities and asthma. This is apart from the known risk of dental caries.

A majority of children begin consuming added sugar even before their first birthday, suggest researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "These data may be relevant to the upcoming 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans".

Last Updated: June 10, 2018. That's because they don't have the same nutritional value, such as vitamins and fiber, as unprocessed foods and contain high levels of calories.

In the future, researchers will investigate the specific foods children consume their added sugar. They are usually found in foods that do not contain natural fibres which are beneficial for health.

"The easiest way to reduce added sugars in your own diet and your kids' diet is to choose foods that you know don't have them, like fresh fruits and vegetables", Herrick said.

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Herrick and her team looked at data from over 800 infants and toddlers for this study. The children were aged between 6 and 23 months.

In the survey, researchers instructed parents to write down what they fed their children in a 24-hour period.

The body processes all types of sugars in the same way, but those added to food are believed to be more harmful.

The results revealed that 85 percent of the toddlers and infants studied were consuming added sugars in their daily diet. By the age of 12 to 18-months, this figure rose to 98%-at around 5.5 teaspoons. Children were also found to consume added sugar before the age of one. By the time the children were between 19 to 23 months of age, 99 percent were taking in an average of 7 teaspoons of added sugar per day.

Added sugars include brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose, according to the CDC. These differences were not seen in the younger age group. While 60 percent of those between the ages of 6 and 11 months old were found to eat added sugar on a given day.

But most Americans exceed those limits.

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