US study: no sugar for children under two


No sugar for children up to 2 years, and no more than 25 grams per day - about 6 teaspoons - up to 18 years.

For the first time someone clearly gives the numbers related to how much sugar can be allowed in the nutrition of children and adolescents and to do so is the American Heart Association, the national association of American cardiologists, at the conclusion of a substantial study on the risks of an excess of sugars.

Sugar has been sitting in the dock for some time, accused of being - if taken in large quantities - an important one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and associated conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes. But be careful: we are not talking about that naturally contained in many foods, such as fruit or milk, but about the sugar - or rather, the sugars - that come added during food preparation, both at home and in industrial processes: sucrose, glucose, fructose, honey, syrups.

Our thoughts immediately turn to sweets - cakes, biscuits, ice cream, candies - but we must not be fooled: added sugar is present in many unsuspected foods. For example, hamburger buns and many sauces starting from ketchup are rich in it: a single tablespoon of the delicious red sauce contains about a teaspoon. Not to mention carbonated soft drinks, iced tea, energy sports drinks: one can can hold up to 40 grams (10 teaspoons).

Well, the American experts have analyzed in detail the scientific literature available to date on the risks to the cardiovascular health of children and adolescents who consume too many added sugars. The conclusion is that the impact is substantial: the more the diet is rich in sugar, the higher the risk of obesity, hypertension, changes in the level of fats in the blood, diabetes.

Children who eat a lot of sugar-rich foods, which are typically junk food, tend to have a diet low in healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains.

Hence the two main recommendations of American cardiologists.

1. No added sugars for babies up to two years old

The ban stems from two considerations: the fact that such young children have absolutely no need for these substances and the fact that in this age group the taste is formedor and it is good not to accustom the little ones to too sweet flavors.

This means on the one hand avoiding adding sugar or honey (in any case prohibited up to one year of age) to what the child eats or drinks and on the other hand carefully choosing the foods to offer him: for desserts and ice creams you can wait and as for baby food - for example fruit baby food - better to prefer those without added sugars.


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2. Between 2 and 18 years old ok with sugar, as long as it does not exceed 25 grams per day, about 6 tsp

"The goal - underlined the pediatrician Miriam Vos, one of the authors of the study - is to bring sugars into a healthy and balanced diet". Where there is even room for a dessert or a drink every now and then - by the way, no more than one drink a week - but the lion's share is made by healthy foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products (perhaps not too fat), lean meat and fish.


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These recommendations put on paper precise quantities, easy to "visualize", but they are also absolutely in line with those formulated at the beginning of 2022 by the World Health Organization (WHO), which for the general population (therefore also adults) has set the maximum sugar added in the diet at 10% of the daily energy intake and if possible at 5%: a figure equal to exactly six teaspoons of sugar.

  • food
  • child diet
  • added sugars
  • 1-2 children years
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