Kids and Sugar

As kids get older, they don’t just get more candles on their birthday cake, they seem to develop more of a sweet tooth, too.

A new study finds that kids’ diets may be filled with too much added sugar, primarily from sweeteners that food and beverage makers add to their products. The researchers used national surveys that asked young people about the foods and drinks they’ve had on the previous day. Overall, about 16% of their calories came from added sugars. The older they grew, the more sugar they ate and drank.

Among preschoolers, about 13% of their calories came from sugar. That rose to roughly 17% in teens and pre-teens. At all ages, boys took in more added sugar than girls.

The American Heart Association recommends that kids ages four through eight should only get about 3% of their calories from added sugar. By the time they grow up and are eating like the average man or woman, added sugars should still account for less than 7% of their daily calories.

Sodas, candy, desserts and sweet baked goods account for most of our added sugars, but parents should keep an eye out for more surprising sources too, such as ketchup, bread and other processed foods.

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