Many sugary snacks and cereals are blatantly marketed towards children. A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition collected the dietary data of 3-year-olds in order to understand just how much sugar children consume. The aim of the study was to get a better understanding of the development of dental issues and obesity in kids.

Unfortunately, 66% – 73% of children in the study failed to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) health guidelines. These guidelines state that less than 10% of a child’s energy intake should come from free sugars present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. If parents are able to lower that to 5% percent, WHO claimed that it may provide additional health benefits.

The authors of the study concluded that “it can be proposed that (free sugar) intake is excessively high, even at this early age, and reducing the intake of low nutrient, discretionary food and drink seems a reasonably pragmatic approach to achieving an overall reduction in (free sugar) consumption.”

The biggest sources of free sugar (nearly 40%) were found to come from cakes, biscuits and confectionary. Cereals, which are often seen as overly sugary and sweet accounted for about 8% of free sugar intake. Though these foods are seen as low in nutrition, the study also found that nutrient rich foods such as yogurts can also be significant contributors of free sugars for small children.

These studies undergo many difficulties due to lack of standardization of nutritional information across different countries. Still it appears that kids today are consuming much too much free sugar and we must take practical steps to lower sugar consumption in the future.

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