WEDNESDAY, Feb. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Added sugar in drinks and
foods makes up almost 16 percent of the calories U.S. children and
teens consume, federal health officials report.
That's far more than the daily recommendation of no more than 15
percent of calories from
both sugar and fat, according to the report from the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published online Feb.
29 in the
National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief.
"We were interested in looking at added sugar consumption in children because of the significant prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States and the fact that the dietary guidelines recommend that 5 to 15 percent of calories come from added sugars or fats," explained lead researcher Cynthia Ogden, an epidemiologist with CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
Although the consumption of added sugars decreased between 1999
and 2008, it's still above recommended levels, she said: Boys
consume about 362 calories a day from added sugar, and girls eat
about 282 calories in added sugar on a daily basis.
Sugar consumption also went up as children got older, the report
Preschool-aged boys consumed 13.5 percent of their calories from
added sugars, while boys aged 6 to 11 consumed 16.6 percent of
their calories from added sugars, and those aged 12 to 19 consumed
17.5 percent of their calories from added sugars.
Meanwhile, girls in preschool consumed about 13 percent of their
calories from added sugars, girls aged 6 to 11 consumed 15.7
percent of their calories from added sugars, and those aged 12 to
19 consumed 16.6 percent of their calories from added sugars.
In all, about 41 percent of added sugar came from drinks and the
rest came from foods, Ogden noted.
Highlights of the report included:
Samantha Heller, a dietitian and nutritionist based in
Connecticut, said that "we are turning our home kitchens into
While sugar per se is not evil, too many added sugars increase
the risk for obesity, diabetes, high triglycerides, high
cholesterol, heart disease and more, she said.
"Whoever is the gatekeeper for the family food supply needs to take a good, hard look at their choices. Obviously, junk foods, cookies, desserts and sodas are high in sugar and non-nutritive calories," Heller said.
But added sugars lurk in unexpected places such as dried fruit
snacks, instant iced teas, banana chips, fruit punch, boxed dessert
mixes, fat-free caramel popcorn, chicken nuggets, ketchup, BBQ
sauce, tartar sauce and fat-free salad dressings, she noted.
Ways to reduce sugar intake include buying fewer prepared,
frozen and boxed processed foods; making baked goods from scratch
and using less sugar; having water, fat-free milk and flavored
seltzers on hand; making your own salad dressing; and having cut-up
fresh fruit available for desserts and snacks, Heller advised.
She also recommended reading the ingredient list on foods and
checking for hidden sugars such as: brown rice syrup, dextrose,
fructose, molasses, sucrose, corn sweetener, barley malt syrup,
fruit juice concentrates, glucose, cane juice syrup and
Another expert, Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention
Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said that
"added sugar can increase insulin levels and inflammation, and
provides no real nutritional value."
He added, "Given the notoriously high levels of childhood
obesity and diabetes, we are in a situation where far too many
spoons full of sugar are, indeed, helping the medicine go down --
namely, medicine to treat the ill health the excess sugar is
helping to create."
For more about healthy eating for kids, visit the
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