DALLAS -- The American Heart Association on Monday recommended that children ages 2 to 18 eat or drink less than six teaspoons of added sugars daily.
Those new guidelines are equivalent to about 100 calories or 25 grams of sugar.
“For most children, eating no more than six teaspoons of added sugars per day is a healthy and achievable target,” said Dr. Miriam Vos, lead author, nutrition scientist and associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
Eating foods high in added sugars throughout childhood is linked to the development of risk factors for heart disease, such as an increased risk of obesity and elevated blood pressure in children and young adults.
The likelihood of children developing these health problems rises with an increase in the amount of added sugars consumed, the association said. Overweight children who continue to take in more added sugars are more likely to be insulin resistant, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, according to the statement.
Starting in July 2018, food manufacturers will be required to list the amount of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel making it much easier to follow the recommendations.
“Until then, the best way to avoid added sugars in your child’s diet is to serve mostly foods that are high in nutrition, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish, and to limit foods with little nutritional value,” said Vos.
The statement notes that one of the most common sources of added sugars is sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, fruit-flavored and sports drinks, sweetened teas and energy drinks.
“Children should not drink more than one 8-ounce sugar-sweetened drink a week, yet they are currently drinking their age in sugary drink servings each and every week,” said Vos.
Other tips for cutting back on foods with added sugars include avoiding sweet processed foods, which tend to be loaded with added sugars, such as cereal bars, cookies, cakes and many foods marketed specifically to children, like sweet cereals.
For more on those recommendations, click here.