For generations, children have eaten too much refined sugar. Trends of poor health, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, continue and have grown.

Apple resting on bowl of refined sugar

Replace foods containing refined sugar with naturally sweet foods, such as apples or dried fruits

Refined white sugar contains over 99.9 percent sucrose, and has no nutritional value like vitamins, minerals, protein or fiber.

“Junk foods” like soda, cookies, cake, candy, and frozen desserts crowd out appetites for healthy foods. However, many brands of children’s favorite foods also add sugar.

Recent studies show that children are eating too much refined sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) found children as young as 1 to 3 years old eating around 12 teaspoons of sugar per day. By the time a child is 4 to 8 years old, sugar intake jumps to an average of 21 teaspoons a day. These amounts go beyond the recommended intake of sugar.

A recent Daily Burn post provides an eye-opening infographic called How Much Sugar is Hiding on Your Plate that shows how sugar intake adds up quickly–without using the sugar bowl.

New AHA Guidelines on Refined Sugar Intake

The American Heart Association (AHA) has just issued new guidelines that give more specific details on sugar intake during childhood.

For children under age 2, the AHA recommends NO added sugar.

For children older than two, the AHA provides specific guidelines: no more than eight ounces of any sugar sweetened beverage per week. NO more than 6 teaspoons of sugar added to foods at the table or eaten separately per week.

Sugar Intake Tips

Parents can take the following steps to limit the amount of sugar in their child’s diet:

Provide a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Offer high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish.

Offer naturally sweet and healthy snacks like fresh and dried fruit.

Replace soda and sweetened beverages with low-fat milk (whole milk for children under 2) or water.

Offer only small servings of 100 percent fruit juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting juice intake to 4 to 6 ounces for children under 7, and 8 to 12 ounces for older children.