DALLAS — The American Heart Association is recommending children between the ages of 2 and 18 should eat or drink less than 25 grams, or six teaspoons, of added sugars daily. The recommendation comes as the Food and Drug Administration is in the process of revamping the Nutrition Facts Panel to include the listing of added sugars.
Eating foods high in added sugars throughout childhood is linked to the development of such risk factors for heart disease as increased risk of obesity and elevated blood pressure in children and young adults, according to the A.H.A.
|Miriam Vos, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the Emory State University School of Medicine|
“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 Miriam Vos, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the Emory State University School of Medicine, Atlanta. “There has been a lack of clarity and consensus regarding how much added sugar is considered safe for children, so sugars remain a commonly added ingredient in foods and drinks, and overall consumption by children remains high: The typical American child consumes about triple the recommended amount of added sugars.”
The statement was written by a panel of experts who did a review of scientific research on the effect of added sugars on children’s health. The panel also recommended that added sugars should not be included in the diet of children under the age of 2 years. The calorie needs of children in the age group are lower than older children and adults, so there is little room for food and beverages containing added sugars that don’t provide them with good nutrition. In addition, taste preferences begin early in life, so limiting added sugars may help children develop a life-long preference for healthier foods.
Shortly after the A.H.A. published its recommendation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation came out in strong support of the idea.
|Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., president and c.e.o. of the R.W.J.F.|
“This guidance builds on several notable developments that demonstrate an encouraging national commitment to healthy eating,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the R.W.J.F. “Over the past several years, schools across the country have made significant strides in eliminating sugary beverages and foods from cafeterias and vending machines and replacing them with healthier options.
“Looking ahead, the updated Nutrition Facts Panel that will require food and beverage companies to clearly indicate the amount of added sugars on packaged items — along with national menu labeling rules covering chain restaurants and grocery stores — is poised to help parents and consumers make healthy choices. We urge industry leaders to build on these efforts by following this guidance closely as they develop, reformulate, and market foods and beverages intended for children.”
This past May, the F.D.A. published new rules for the redesign of the agency’s Nutrition Facts Panel. Starting in July 2018, food and beverage companies with sales greater than $10 million will be required to include the amount of added sugars as well as vitamin D and potassium to be in compliance with federal regulations.