US Kids Consume Too Much Sugar, Mostly From Processed Foods: CDC
Children and adolescents are consuming far too much sugar, mostly from packaged and processed foods, according to a report released on Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The consumption of added sugars, which are sweeteners added to processed and prepared foods, has been associated with measures of cardiovascular disease risk among adolescents, including adverse cholesterol concentrations,” the CDC said in its report, which is based on consumption among U.S. children and adolescents between 2005 and 2008.
“Although the percent of daily calories derived from added sugars declined between 1999–2000 and 2007–2008, consumption of added sugars remains high in the diets of Americans,” the CDC said.
According to the report, kids are consuming an average of 322 daily calories from added sugars, or roughly 16% of their total daily caloric intake. Boys consume 362 calories per day from sugar, while girls consume 282 calories.
These amounts exceed the CDC’s 2010 guidelines, which call for limiting total intake of discretionary calories, which include added sugars and solid fats, to 5%–15% of daily caloric intake.
Added sugars include table sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, molasses and other caloric sweeteners in beverages and processed foods.
The CDC’s analysis did not include sugars in fruit and 100% fruit juice.
Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the CDC found that 59% of added-sugar calories in children’s diets come from foods, while 41% come from beverages. However, soft drinks are still the largest single source.
“Soda consumption is high, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the added sugars in foods such as muffins, cookies, sugar-sweetened cereals and pasta sauces,” said Cynthia Ogden, senior author on the report and an epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics.
“Many processed foods have added sugars. Those foods contribute more than the beverages.”
Sixty-three percent of calories from added sugars are consumed at home, and there was no difference in consumption of added sugars by household income levels among children and adolescents, the report noted.
A previous government analysis by Ogden showed that teens who drink soda, energy drinks and other sugary beverages are consuming about 327 calories per day from them – the equivalent of about 2½ cans of soda.
High sugar diets are linked to many adverse health conditions, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
The CDC’s findings are based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is considered the gold standard for evaluating food and beverage habits because the data come from face to face interviews. The survey included more than 7,100 interviews conducted from 2005 to 2008. Parents answered questions for children under age 9 years of age, while those older than 9 participated in the survey themselves.
The full CDC report can be viewed at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db87.pdf.
The CDC’s tips for parents to help children maintain a healthy weight can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children/.