Kids Still Eating Too Much Added Sugar

February 29, 2012

February 29, 2012 (Atlanta, Georgia) — US children and adolescents consumed an average of 16% of their daily caloric intake from added sugars, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [1]. Boys tend to consume more absolute calories from sugar than girls, but the intakes did not differ when the amount of sugar was expressed as a percentage of daily caloric intake, report investigators.

The report, a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) brief using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2005 to 2008 and authored by Dr Bethene Ervin and colleagues, notes that boys consumed 362 calories from added sugars while girls consumed 262 calories from sugar. In both boys and girls, caloric intake from added sugars increased linearly with age, with adolescent boys (ages 12–19 years) consuming 442 calories from sugar and adolescent girls consuming 314 calories from added sugars. When analyzed as a percentage of recommended daily caloric intake, added sugar consumption still increased linearly with age.

Non-Hispanic white children consumed significantly more calories from added sugar than Mexican American children, with non-Hispanic white males and females consuming 17.2% and 16.1% of daily calories from added sugar, respectively, compared with Mexican American males and females, who consumed 14.8% and 14.0% of their daily calories from added sugars (p < 0.05 for the comparison between ethnicities in boys and girls). Non-Hispanic black males and females both consumed 15.9% of their daily calories from added sugar, but their consumption was not significantly different from non-Hispanic whites or Mexican Americans. An analysis of economic status revealed that added sugar consumption did not vary when stratified by the poverty income ratio.

Overall, food, rather than soft drinks, contributed more to the addition of sugar calories. In total, 59% of the added sugar calories came from foods, whereas 41% of the additional calories were derived from soft drinks. Most of the added sugar calories were consumed in the home (65%), report Ervin and colleagues.

The researchers note that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting the total intake of discretionary calories, which includes added sugars and solid fats, to 5% to 15% of daily caloric intake, but most Americans exceed these levels. If children and adolescents lower their intake of added sugars, the effect will be to reduce the overall daily calories consumed. "This strategy could play an important role in reducing the high prevalence of obesity in the United States without compromising adequate nutrition," conclude Ervin et al.

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