A study out of Canada in June 2010 found that half of the food products targeted toward babies and toddlers contain too much sugar. This study categorized an over-abundance of sugar as having at least 20 percent of its total calories from sugar. Of the 186 foods analyzed, 53 percent of them contained at least 20 percent of calories from sugar. Too much sugar in your toddler's diet can cause serious health problems including obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and poor bone development.
Part of keeping your toddler healthy is understanding how much food he should be eating. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends assessing calorie needs based on age and body size. For children between the ages of 1 and 3 years, caloric intake should equal 40 calories per inch of height. In other words, if your toddler is 30 inches tall, he would need to consume 1,200 calories per day for health.
In 2009, the America Heart Association released a position paper regarding the importance of monitoring dietary sugar intake. According to the American Heart Association, toddlers should consume only 17 g of sugar per day. If a toddler consumes between 1,200 and 1,400 calories, this means that between 7 and 8 percent of her total calories should be from sugar. This equals out to about 170 calories from sugar per day.
Keeping sugar intake under control can be difficult because many ingredients listed on prepackaged foods may not be indicated as just "sugar." Other common names of sugars include high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, cane juice, malt, molasses, lactose, honey, ethyl maltol and maltodextrin. Read nutrition labels as well as ingredients lists to uncover any hidden sugars.
Reducing excess sugar is not as hard as it might sound. Simple steps such as replacing fruit juice with water or switching to high-fiber snacks can help. Feed your children more whole foods such as lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Avoid succumbing to convenience foods, and cook more for your children. When you cook, you can take an active part in reducing the amount of sugar in a meal.
- UPI.com: Study: Too Much Sugar in Toddler Foods; June 2010
- What to Expect.com: Kids and Sugar: The Skinny on Sweets; Heidi Murkoff;
- Wholesome Toddler Food.com: Toddler Nutrition
- "Circulation"; Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association; Rachel K. Johnson, et al.; August 2009