New guidelines issued on added sugar consumption for children and teens

Many everyday processed food items you pick up at the store like ketchup, yogurt, and pizza have one thing in common: added sugars. The American Heart Association issued new guidelines on just how much sugar our children should consume.

“We don’t give her much. We were at my grandmother’s house yesterday though and we gave her a little cookie. It went over too well,” said Libby Selby of her 10-month-old daughter Caroline.

The American Heart Association recommends that children between the ages of two and eighteen consume less than 25 grams of sugar or six teaspoons.

Dr. Carissa Stanton with the University of Kansas Hospital said those added sugars are linked to chronic diseases in children.

“I went into pediatrics because I wouldn’t have to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, but unfortunately I’m having to prescribe medication for high blood pressure, for diabetes even as young as age six,” she said.

Almost everything processed has added sugar. That’s why Stanton said to read labels and the serving size. She also recommends eating closer to nature like fruits and vegetables.

“A low sugar item would have about six grams or less of added sugar because if you eat four items a day with added sugars in it, there’s a child’s whole day worth of added sugars,” Stanton added.

Before the age of two, the AHA said drinks with added sugars should not be included in the diet. That’s a rule Claire Baker has for her two kids.

“Any juice we do is low sugar anyway and then we dilute it with water. We drink a lot of water and milk in the house, keep it simple,” Baker said.

Studies show American teens on average consume about 90 grams of added sugars; that’s nearly triple the recommended amount.

Selby hopes that instilling healthy eating habits at a young age, Caroline will gravitate toward fruits and vegetables as she grows older.

“Cucumbers and red peppers, that’s her new thing. She loves red peppers,” she said about Caroline’s favorite snacks.