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sugarI just read an article that sent me in to sugar shock!  A recent study found that 85% of toddlers between the ages of 19-23 months are consuming an average of a little over 7 teaspoons of added sugar on a given day.  That amount of sugar is equal to what’s in a Snickers bar! You might not give your toddler a candy bar every day, but added sugars are common even in foods that many of us consider as healthy.  Just one serving of children’s cereal, a drinkable yogurt, and a granola bar total 7 teaspoons of added sugar. For many families, these may be common snacks…and that doesn’t even include added sugar that might be a part of meals or treats. It’s easy to see how quickly added sugars can…well, add up.

What is added sugar?

Foods and beverages with added sugars have additional sugar added to enhance sweetness–for example, soda.  This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruit.

 Why limit added sugars?

Eating too much added sugar has been linked to obesity and an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, as well as tooth decay.

 What common foods have added sugars?

These foods will often have natural sources of sugar as well as added sugars:

  • Cereal and granola bars
  • Yogurt and yogurt drinks
  • Bottled and canned juices, smoothies, and sports drinks
  • Condiments such as dressings and sauces
  • Packaged snacks and treats

How can you limit added sugars?

  • Read the nutrition label! You may have noticed the new nutrition label that is starting to appear on many foods.  A great addition to the new label is that it requires food manufacturers to list the number of grams of extra sugar that have been added to the food.
  • Look for cereals that have no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Choose plain yogurt products and add your own fruit to sweeten them up.
  • When choosing juice, make sure it is 100% juice—juice is sweet enough without added sugars. Limit your children to 4 oz. of juice daily!
  • Be aware of the recommendations:
    • Children under the age of 2 are still developing their taste buds and food preferences. It’s best to limit foods with added sugars until after they turn 2… you wouldn’t want them to develop a sweet tooth! For children 2 years and older, limit added sugars to 6 teaspoons (24 grams) per day.  Adults can aim to limit their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day.

Do you have tips on how you limit sugar in your family’s diet?  Let us know!

Written By:

Nutrition Education Specialist for the Massachusetts WIC Program

Nutrition Education Specialist for the Massachusetts WIC Program

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