The Kids Table
Kids and sugar
Estimating how much added sugar kids consume
Children and teens are consuming too much added sugar in their diets, according to a recent report. (Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune)
This finding isn't exactly surprising, but it's worth looking at some of the statistics to appreciate the magnitude of the problem. The data here is on U.S. kids between the ages of 2 and 19, culled from the government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey:
Average number of calories' worth of added sugar consumed by boys each day. For girls, the daily average was 282.
The proportion of total daily calorie consumption for boys that came from added sugar (for girls, 15.5 percent). The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that no more than 15 percent of daily calories come from "discretionary" foods such as added sugar and solid fats.
Percentage of calories from added sugar that came from food; 41 percent from beverages.
• Consumption of added sugar rose steadily as kids got older. For instance, preschool-age boys got an average of 218 calories from added sugar, while those in the 6-to-11 age bracket got 345 and those in junior and senior high got 442. The trend was similar for girls.
• Most added sugars are consumed at home. This is more true for foods than for drinks.
• Household income had no bearing on the proportion of calories consumed in the form of added sugar.
What it is
Added sugar is just what it sounds like — a caloric sweetener that doesn't exist naturally in foods. A partial list of the types in the report includes white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, molasses and high fructose corn syrup. The CDC said it counted "all sugars used as ingredients in processed and prepared foods such as breads, cakes, soft drinks, jams, chocolates, ice cream, and sugars eaten separately or added to foods at the table."
Why are they bad? In addition to contributing to weight gain, they boost cholesterol and increase the risk of various heart problems in children.