New guidelines: Kids should eat less than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day

Each day, the typical American youth consumes more than three times the six teaspoons of added sugar recommended as a daily limit under new guidelines from the American Heart Association, released today. 

The guidelines are contained in a “scientific statement” from a panel of experts after a comprehensive review of scientific evidence on added sugars on children's health. In addition to recommending that children 2-18 consume fewer than six teaspoons of added sugars per day, other highlights include: 


  • Children and teens are safest downing no more than one sugary drink a week, ideally of no more than 8 ounces;
  • Kids under 2 should not consume foods or beverages with added sugars, including sugary drinks.

To put the daily limit in context, one pouch of Capri Sun comes close to meeting it at 4 teaspoons, and a 20-ounce Coca-Cola blows it out of the water with 16 teaspoons. That doesn’t leave a lot of room, to say the least, for sugary cereals or snacks. (Read the full scientific statement in the journal Circulation.)

“Children who eat foods loaded with added sugars tend to eat fewer healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products that are good for their heart health,” said lead author Miriam Vos, M.D., Ms.P.H, a nutrition scientist and associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had this to say:

“Reducing the amount of added sugars children consume is one of the smartest, most effective strategies we can pursue to reverse the national childhood obesity epidemic. Parents, policymakers, industry leaders, health advocates, and communities all share the responsibility for ensuring that this guidance swiftly becomes a part of our national nutrition fabric.”

It’s time to bring sugar back to healthy levels for kids.  We have the resources needed to move the science to action. 


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