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Limit Kids’ Sugar to Prevent Chronic Disease

Limit Kids’ Sugar to Prevent Chronic Disease

Kids take to sweets pretty quickly if they’re exposed to them—and are reluctant to ever give them up.

In 1966, when Len Barry sang “1-2-3 … let’s fall in love, it’s easy (it’s so easy) Like takin’ candy from a baby,” he was nominated for a Grammy Award. Len clearly thought it was a piece of cake to take candy from a child, but researchers would disagree. Turns out, kids take to sweet treats pretty quickly if they’re exposed to them—and are reluctant to ever give them up. And it’s become a major health problem.

The American Heart Association issued recommendations about added sugar intake for children and adolescents ages 2 to 18, warning that the average American child now eats about 18 teaspoons of added sugar a day! They suggest that get cut down to around 6 or fewer teaspoons daily. We say that’s still way, way too much to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity, premature chronic diseases–diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity (yes, obesity is a chronic disease), osteoarthritis—and elevated triglycerides that excess sugar triggers. Did you know, according to the American Diabetes Association, it’s estimated that 208,000 Americans younger than 20 have diagnosed diabetes.

As for kids two and younger, the AHA recommends no added sugar at all. You read that right—absolutely none. And we say bravo! Sugar is packed into processed foods, especially cereals (even in your favorite, supposedly healthy granola), snacks, cakes and fast foods that are marketed to kids. If you avoid serving those, your infant and toddler will develop more diverse taste preferences and enjoy eating healthier foods.

Medically reviewed in September 2018.

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