Hitting the Brakes on Sugar for Kids

A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) calls for a dramatic cut in sugar for kids. In a scientific statement published this week, AHA recommends that children between 2 and 18 consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day. That’s a reduction of two-thirds from the estimated 75 grams that an average American child eats today.

Within this guideline, only one small serving of soda is permissible. Those little 7.5 ounce mini cans of Coke have exactly 25 grams of added sugar. A 12-ounce can, with 39 grams, is over the limit. An 8 ounce glass of lemonade is verboten: 28 grams of sugar. One six-ounce juice box comes in just under the limit at 19 grams of sugar. Just one cup of flavored yogurt can hit the daily limit of sugar for kids, depending on the type.

No Sugar Added Ice CreamBottom line, one serving of just about any sugary treat – yogurt, juice, soda, cookies, cake, or candy – will take a kid right up to this new daily limit.

So how will consumers respond? Expect some unintended consequences. As the consumer response becomes clear, food makers will respond in turn. We predict a surge in “no added sugar” food products – some with dubious dietary quality.

We are in the midst of a massive dietary experiment.

Click here for the AHA scientific statement and here for more from LiveScience.

cOke, photograph © Dannyqu / flickr

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August 24, 2016

3 Responses to “Hitting the Brakes on Sugar for Kids”

  1. August 24, 2016 at 6:59 am, Mary-Jo Overwater said:

    This new recommendation does seem unrealistically low and may beckon a backlash of parents throwing their hands up in the air, ignoring advice, even blatantly defying advice and feeding their children more sugar-laden items (hope not!), especially during these times of mistrust in the experts. But, I agree with 25 gms as a TARGET. It’s workable and as you did, put it in perspective by giving food examples, this will help people see why and how sugar consumption has increased to such dangerous levels — it’s in the obvious sources such as sodas, candy, cookies, etc., but also in many other not-so-obvious items and even touted as ‘healthy’ items, like flavored and frozen yogurts, granola bars, and juices. People need to be made aware of this. The need help in deciphering labels. They need this kind of benchmark to give perspective. Even if the target of 25 gms is not achieved all the time or ever, hopefully, sugar consumption will effectively decrease. However, yes, I AM concerned that the ‘no added sugar’ craze will, indeed result in some funky overly-processed products flooding the marketplace with ingredients that will prove to be just as, if not more harmful to children and that parents don’t scramble to placate their children with these items vs. the fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and wholesome foods that Dr. Vos and all of us hope and pray we choose for our children and they learn to love and crave. I was very encouraged yesterday here in Vienna when I heard an American little voice — a girl of about 7 or 8 — begging her father to buy oranges and peaches! Music to my ears! 🙂 The dad then proceeded to ask me if I could help him find heavy cream. 🙁

    • August 24, 2016 at 7:14 am, Ted said:

      Food choices and dietary patterns are part of a very complicated web, aren’t they, Mary-Jo? Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

  2. August 24, 2016 at 11:04 am, Pankaj said:

    I have always tried to explain parents about how much weight gain a 12 ounce can of soda can cause in a year.. about 32 lbs..:( this has been an eye opener for lots of parents and kids.). I know lots of parents get upset with sugar limit or cutoff but we have to make them aware that childhood obesity has markedly risen over last 30 years.