Children at a table with multiple sources of sugar
Pregnancy & Kids Care Print

Do Parents Have Time to Meet the American Heart Association Sugar Recommendations?


Most of us underestimate  how much daily sugar we eat because  sugar is a part of, let’s be honest, all processed foods. Watch this Buzzfeed video if you want to have fun being shocked by food sugar amounts. Or read through the American Heart Association (AHA) online guide.

Since excess sugar consumption leads to childhood obesity and diabetes, two risk factors for heart disease, the AHA has drawn a serious line for kid sugar consumption. 

AHA Sugar Recommendations

Kid sugar recommendations:

  • Newborn - 2:  no added sugar at all. None.
  • 2-18: less than 6 teaspoons of daily sugar is permissible, but not recommended.  One weekly sugary beverage, including fruit juices

These are significant departures from the average American diet.

Why the drastic change?

A JAMA Internal Medicine expose claims  the sugar industry has manipulated research on sugar consumption disease risks beginning in 1965.  

It started when  the sugar lobby paid researchers at Harvard University to conduct a review of select research on how eating  fat and cholesterol leads to  heart disease. The published review ended up downplaying the heart disease-sugar link that was being equally discussed in other research. Currently known as Subsequent Sugar Association, the lobby has spent several decades shifting blame from sugar and its impact on heart disease.

The practical side of sugar recommendations

Policy changes to avoid future industry bias in health research is great news for concerned parents.

But if you are anything like this mom, taking sugar out of your kids’ diet,

  1. Requires cooking, possibly from scratch
  2. Could be a month-long (or more) intensive project

Real Mom Nutrition is a blog by a registered dietitian who posted pictures of what a daily amount of sugar looks like for kids. This was following the old standards.

Skepticism is coming from even the biggest champions of kids healthy eating, like author Bettina Elias Siegel, founder of The Lunch Tray. She points out that if anyone needs to work on reducing sugar, it would be schools themselves.

Send us your comments

Are you able to meet current sugar recommendations?

Do you have any advice for other parents?

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