The American Heart Association recommends children under the age of two avoid food with added sugars. But, a new study by the Centers for Disease control found that is not happening for most kids.
For kids six to 11 months old, 61 percent of sugar in their diet was added sugar. That number jumped to 98 to 99 percent for kids between one and two years old.
Eating too much sugar has been linked to a variety of health problems like cavities, asthma and risk factors for heart disease later in life. When kids start to develop bad eating habits, it can create behaviors that follow them throughout their lives.
"Now the longer it happens, the more likely that it's going to continue to happen," explained Derek Alessi. He has a doctorate in exercise science and a master's in nutrition and runs Dr. Derek Health and Fitness in East Amherst. "And then it just doesn't become something that you're handling as an infant, or as a toddler, or as an adolescent, it's becoming something as an adult."
He recommends "eating like our grandparents" by adding more vegetables, produce and other natural foods and avoiding foods, when possible, that comes in a "can, bag or box". But, he says it is important to be able to understand labeling for food products.
"You've been taught that certain products like yogurt, like fruit, like juice are quote unquote good for you," Alessi said. "When you look at the labels, though, you can see manufacturers oftentimes sneak many things in to make it even sweeter."
Reading the ingredient list and understanding what exactly is in different products is the most important thing, according to Alessi.
The CDC study looked at 800 children in Maryland, asking their parents what each child's added sugar consumption was in a 24-hour period.