- Children should consume less than six teaspoons of added sugars per day, and children under the age of 2 should avoid all foods and beverages with added sugars, according to experts from the American Heart Association (AHA).
- The experts also recommend that children and teens limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to no more than 8 ounces per week.
- Children who consume foods and beverages that are high in added sugars often don't eat as much healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, according to the lead author of the AHA's report.
For manufacturers already planning to abide by the recommendations from the World Health Organization, FDA and 2015 Dietary Guidelines, these kid-focused recommendations should align with their current efforts. The organizations recommended that added sugars comprise less than 10% of calories consumed per day.
Reducing or eliminating sugar from kids' products, particularly baby and toddler foods, could be difficult, because manufacturers often use sugar to make foods and beverages more palatable for children. However, the AHA argues that by restricting added sugar intake in the first years of life when palates begin to form, children may not crave added sugar as much. Down the line, products high in added sugar could end up being too sweet for their palates. This could impact sales years later when they influence what products their parents buy or decades later when they begin purchasing their own food.
These are recommendations, not mandates, but the amount of added sugar in products will be more visible in the coming years as mandated changes to the Nutrition Facts panel take effect, including the new added sugar line.
Organizations like the AHA, WHO and FDA have played integral roles in driving certain food movements before. While these organizations do have sway over consumers' health perceptions, consumers access food information from many other sources, so the AHA's announcement may have little additional impact on the ongoing conversation about added sugar.
But sugar reduction may already be happening. The USDA’s Economic Research Service found that American children lowered their caloric sweetener intake more than adults from 1994 to 2008.