New study sounds alarm on toddlers’ added sugar intake

November 14, 2019

A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows that 98% of toddlers and two-thirds of infants consume added sugars in their diets each day.

A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows that 98% of toddlers and two-thirds of infants consume added sugars in their diets each day

On average, infants consumed a teaspoon of added sugar per day while toddlers consumed nearly 6 teaspoons a day. By comparison, the American Heart Association recommends that children aged younger than 2 years not consume any added sugars.

Researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of US infants aged 0 to 11 months and toddlers aged 12 to 23 months, for a total of 1211 participants. The sample came from a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which examined consumptionfrom 2011 to 2016. Researchers used paired t tests to compare differences by family income level, head of household education level, age, sex, and race/Hispanic origin.

The findings

·      On any given day 84.4% of the infants and toddlers consumed added sugar.

·      More toddlers (98.3%) consumed added sugar than infants (60.6%).

·      Toddlers also consumed a greater amount of added sugar than infants (5.8 teaspoons vs 0.9 teaspoons).

·      Non-Hispanic black toddlers consumed the most added sugar per day (8.2 teaspoons), followed by Hispanic toddlers (5.9 teaspoons), on-Hispanic white toddlers (5.3 teaspoons) and non-Hispanic Asian toddlers ( 3.7 teaspoons).

The top source of added sugars for infants included yogurt, baby food snacks, and sweet bakery products. Toddlers consumed their added sugar from sugars/sweets, fruit drinks, and sweet bakery products.

 The study found that the mean amount of added sugar consumed by both infants and toddlers did decrease over the five-year study period; percent energy from added sugar, however, decreased only among infants.

Consumption of added sugars at these young ages is a concern because research has shown that eating patterns established early in life impact and shape eating patterns later in life.