Diets high in sugar can lead to a multitude of health problems, including obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Because of this, health experts encourage the adoption of well-rounded diets early in life, especially a diet low in added sugars. Unfortunately, a new study finds that high sugar consumption may begin very early, despite nutritionists’ warnings.
Researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to assess how much added sugars were consumed by U.S. infants and toddlers. The researchers analyzed data from more than 1,200 infants and toddlers between the ages of 6 months and 23 months between 2011 and 2016. They found 98% of the toddlers consumed added sugars daily through fruit juices, baked goods, candy and cereal. Also, 61% of babies consumed added sugars daily through flavored yogurt and baby snacks.
Health groups, including the American Heart Association, have long advised people to limit their sugar intake. The new research indicates this message needs to be stressed to parents, who should not allow children under 2 years old to consume added sugars.
What can parents do with this information? For starters, they should check the labels of packaged food products and avoid purchasing those with ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and cane sugar. They can also feed infants and toddlers unsweetened beverages like plain milk and water.
Eating patterns established early in life affect our lifelong habits, so the less sugar babies and toddlers consume, the better it’ll be for their health long-term.