PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – America’s addiction to sugar may be starting before a child’s first birthday. Researchers say some babies are getting added sugar that exceeds maximum levels recommended for adults.
Scientist know sugar is linked to all kinds of health problems and this study is among the first to evaluate how much added sugar young children are consuming.
Ninety-nine percent of the toddlers between 19 months and 2 years old consumed an average of more than seven teaspoons of added sugar each day.
According to the research, that’s more than the amount in a Snickers candy bar, and much more than what is recommended.
“In kids ages 6-11 months, so under a year old, were actually consuming about 60 percent of their sugar from added sugar,” said nutritionist Jennifer Hyland.
The study looked at more than 800 children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years old.
Researchers say added sugars often hide in places like fruit juice, yogurt, granola bars, applesauce, and even peanut butter.
The added sugar includes sugar cane, high-fructose corn syrup and honey.
“That means they’re not getting it from fruits and vegetables naturally, but they’re getting it from the foods that have the sugar added to it,” said Hyland.
Sugar is linked to a variety of problems, including obesity and diabetes.
Doctors say taste preferences developed early can last a lifetime, which is why it is important to get toddlers off to a healthy start.
Parents are advised to take the time to read the nutrition labels and whenever possible, stick to whole, non-processed foods.
“You have unsweetened apple sauce or natural peanut butter that are a great, healthy, nutritious options,” said Hyland.
The recommendation is that children under the age of 2 should have no added sugar and kids over 2 should have no more than six teaspoons a day.
Natural sugar from things like fresh fruit doesn’t count.