Watch for added sugars in kids’ diets

Children today are consuming far more sugar than their recommended daily limit—no added sugar for children under two and no more than about six teaspoons for kids up to age 18—mostly due to the omnipresence of sugar in packaged foods and drinks, according to experts.

In an August 1, 2019 article in Time, Juliana Cohen, adjunct assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that kids are born with an innate preference for sweet foods that fades with age. This may have once been an evolutionary advantage, because sweet foods are more likely to be safe and bitter foods toxic. “Sugar in small doses is okay,” Cohen told Time, “but with the portion sizes most people are used to today, we’ve lost perspective on moderation.”

The health consequences of an excessively sugary diet include increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In addition, Cohen said, her research has shown that exposure to too much sugar at a young age may impair learning and memory formation.

According to experts quoted in the article, one effective way to reduce added sugar in a child’s diet is to encourage him or her to drink water or milk instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Read Time article: Is Sugar as Bad for Kids as It Is for Adults?

Learn more

A call to action on limiting kids’ sugary beverage consumption (Harvard Chan School news)

Swapping sweeteners in drinks may help some reduce disease risk—but water is better (Harvard Chan School news)