sugar intake for kids

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Start good eating habits early: New sugar guidelines for kids

  • Added sugar includes sugar, fructose, honey, maple syrup and other sweets added at the table or during processing or cooking. It is found in foods and drinks.
  • There is strong evidence that added sugars increase the risk of heart disease in children.
  • Too much sugar can lead to health issues such as insulin resistance, prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. It can also effect your child's mood and activity levels.

New U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that kids between the age of 2 to 18 have no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. The sugar intake recommendation for children under age 2? No added sugar.

If you've wondered is sugar bad for kids? Well, there's is strong evidence to show that added sugars increase the risk of heart disease in children. Too much sugar also can lead to health issues such as insulin resistance, prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. It can also effect your child's mood and activity levels.

What are added sugars?

Added sugar includes sugar, fructose, honey, maple syrup and other sweets added at the table or during processing and cooking. It is found in foods and drinks and can add up quickly.

Good eating habits start early

My advice for parents is that the earlier you start good eating habits the better. It shapes your palate and what you do later in life. It is a high mark, but you can cut down on your child's sugar intake. Read nutrition labels for the amount of “added sugar”. If the first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup or sugar, and if real fruit is listed toward the end of the ingredient list, it’s probably not the best choice.

To reduce the amount of sugar in your kids’ meals and snacks:

  • Feed only breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first six months. 
  • Read labels, watching out for those that are high in “added sugar”.
  • Keep treats only for special occasions such as cake on your child’s birthday.
  • Model good eating habits. Show your child the fruits and vegetables you love.
  • Train young eyes and palates for the good stuff. Make half their plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Offer a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Don’t give up if they turn up their nose on the first, second or even third try. Offer fruits and vegetables repeatedly.
  • When older, have your kids choose, prepare and cook meals. It’s tougher for kids to turn up their noses when they’ve been involved in meal prep. Here are some tips for including kids in the kitchen.

The guidelines also recommend that you introduce foods that contain peanuts in your kids’ first year to reduce the risk that they will develop a peanut allergy.

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