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Health & Parenting

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Kids' Diets Have Too Much Added Sugar

Healthier Foods Often Lose Out to Sugary Ones in Children's Diets

Healthier Foods Sidelined

All that added sugar apparently pushed more nutritious foods off kids' plates. The more added sugar in a kid's diet, the less likely the diet contained grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy.

"Children with the highest level of added sugar intake had the lowest consumption of most nutrients and servings of grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy," say the researchers in the Jan. issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.

The kids who got most of their calories from added sugars, consumed significantly fewer calories from protein and fat, ate less fiber, and fell short on many nutrients. For instance, calcium intake was too low in 40% of the youngest kids and about 70% of the older children consuming the most added sugar.

Even those who ate the least added sugar (less than 10% of daily calories) often didn't get enough calcium.

Sugar Recommendations Questioned

Current added sugar guidelines might be too liberal, say the researchers. They note that the National Academy of Sciences recommends getting no more than 25% of daily calories from added sugar. That could be too much for preschoolers, say the researchers, calling for long-term studies.

Stricter limits come from the USDA's Food Pyramid and World Health Organization. The USDA recommends capping added sugar at 6%-10% of daily calories. The World Health Organization advises getting less than 10% of daily calories from added sugar.

Want to limit kids' added sugar intake? Look beyond the cookie jar. Lemonade, 10% fruit juices, ice cream, pies, cakes, soft drinks, and sweetened cereals were also popular sources in the study.

They say that limitations of added sugar intake could result in higher, nutrient-dense diets.

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