More than half of 6 to 11-month-olds surveyed were given added sugar on a given day.
"This is the first time we have looked at added sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old", said lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In order to evaluate added sugar consumption, the researchers included any calorie-containing sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup but excluded naturally occurring sugars such as fruits.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued by the US government, recommends children between 2 and 19, limit added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons per day. But that affinity for the sweet stuff starts as early as infancy, with some babies consuming added sugar that exceeds maximum levels recommended for adults, US researchers report.
The body processes sugars from foods such as fruits and chocolates in the same way-but the processed sugars in products like the latter are believed to be worse for our health.
Eating too much foods containing added sugar has been associated with a number of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and even some cancers.
The researchers pointed out that toddlers really should be getting sugar from fruits and vegetables, not from foods with added sugar.
But the earlier sugar intake begins, the harder the habit becomes to kick later in life.
"Once kids start eating table food, they're often eating the same types of foods that Mom and Dad have in their diet, and other research has demonstrated that adults exceed recommendations for added sugar too", Herrick said.
The study found 99 percent of a representative sample of United States toddlers age 19-23 months consumed an average of just over 7 teaspoons of added sugar on a given day-more than the amount in a Snicker's® bar.
Parents were asked to record every item their child consumed during a 24-hour period.
Herrick said the findings could have implications for the upcoming revision of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
About 85 percent of them were found to eat added sugar in a given day.
The government does not have guidelines for daily recommended limits for added sugar for children under the age of two. Regardless of the recommendations, most people in the USA eat more than this limit, research shows.
The CDC added sugar study did have an explicit limitation. It is the easiest way to supply the energy, however added sugars come with the catch - the "sugar tolerance" will be formed eventually.
Parents can expect recommendations for young children to be in place for the 2020-2025 DGA guidelines, but for now, less added sugar should always be the goal.
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