The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found, on average, toddlers eat more than seven teaspoons of added sugar a day. Surprisingly, dried fruits contain an enormous amount of sugar, almost 21 teaspoons in one cup.
It turns out, the average toddler's intake of added sugar even exceeds the recommended amount of added sugar for adults. AHA's guidelines state that kids of this age "should avoid consuming any added sugar, since they need nutrient-rich diets and are developing taste preferences". The researchers explain that these kids could also be at risk of making bad food choices later in life.
Researchers say 60 percent of children have sugar before their first birthday, and consumption rises with age. Previous research suggests most Americans exceed those limits. That's perhaps why, unlike the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the 2020-2025 edition will include dietary recommendations for infants and toddlers under two. The research titled "Consumption of added sugars among US infants aged 6-23 months, 2011-2014" was presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in Boston on June 10.
Added sugars are sugar and syrups that are added to food products when they are processed or prepared. They are usually found in foods that do not contain natural fibres which are beneficial for health. The children were aged between 6 and 23 months. These children took part in the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey or NHANES that took place from 2011 to 2014. In a 24 hour window period, all the foods that the child was consuming was recorded.
Added sugars include any sugar used in processing or preparing foods and beverages, or any sugar added to food at the table. That rose to 98 percent among those babies 12 to 18 months, who averaged 5.5 teaspoons of added sugar a day. For the 6- to 11-month-olds, 61 percent of the sugar in their diet was added sugar.
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. It's also been associated with higher cholesterol levels and elevated blood pressure. These differences were not seen in the younger age group.
The latest nutritional guidelines for the USA, which were updated in 2015 and will be reviewed in 2020, do not give recommendations for children under the age of two.
This tracks (pdf) with an increase in U.S. sugar intake broadly: In 1970, Americans ate 123 pounds of sugar per year, and today, the average American consumes nearly 152 pounds of sugar per year. For adult men, the limit is 9 teaspoons or less of added sugar per day.