The American Heart Association (AHA) has issued a scientific statement allegedly linking added sugar consumption “at levels far below current consumption levels” to cardiovascular disease risk factors in children. Published in the August 22, 2016, issue of Circulation, the statement recommends that children consume less than 25 grams (100 calories or approximately six teaspoons) of added sugar per day, while advocating that children younger than age 2 should avoid added sugars altogether.
After reviewing the latest studies on the topic, the AHA committee apparently identified “strong evidence” backing “the association of added sugars with increased cardiovascular disease risk in children through increase energy intake, increase adiposity, and dyslipidemia.” Among other things, the statement finds that “foods and beverages each contribute half of the added sugars in children’s diets, 40 g each,” and includes soda, fruit-flavored and sports drinks, cakes, and cookies as the top contributors to added sugar in children’s diets.
“Importantly, the introduction of added sugars during infancy appears to be particularly harmful and should be avoided,” concludes AHA. “Although added sugars can mostly likely be safely consumed in low amounts as part of a healthy diet, little research has been done to establish a threshold between adverse effects and health, making this an important future research topic.”
Meanwhile, the Sugar Association has noted that AHA’s recommenda- tions are “vastly different” from those propounded by “both the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (ages 2 years and up) and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final labeling rule (ages 4 years and up),” which issued a 10-percent of daily caloric intake target for added sugar. “It is one thing to say that evidence supports an association between soft drinks and obesity and disease risk in children, but to say that evidence exists to support a 100 calorie limit of added sugars in 2-18 year olds is simply not factual,” states the Sugar Association in an August 24, 2016, press release. “When consumed appropriately, added sugars and a nutrient-rich diet are not mutually exclusive.”