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Childhood nutrition affects later eating habits
Many toddlers and infants already consume a lot of sugar, which contributes to the early development of unhealthy eating habits, which are associated with various negative health conditions later in life.
The latest study by the National Institutes of Health has now found that infants and young children often have a lot of sugar in their diets, which is why unhealthy eating habits can develop early in life. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics".
In what form is sugar consumed?
Almost two-thirds of infants (61 percent) and almost all toddlers (98 percent) consumed additional sugar in their average daily diet, mainly in the form of flavored yogurt (infants) and fruit drinks (infants). The infants in the study were 6 to 11 months old and the toddlers were 12 to 23 months old.
Sugar establishes unhealthy eating habits early on
The increased consumption of sugar indicates a serious and persistent problem: an early development of eating habits that are associated with negative health conditions. The study examined the sugar consumption of infants and young children for the first time. It has been found that most infants and young children consume too much additional sugar.
Sugar-sweetened drinks should not be consumed at a young age
This has important implications for public health, as previous research has shown that early eating habits lead to permanent eating habits in later life. For example, an earlier study found that six-year-old children who consumed sweetened drinks before the age of one year were more than twice as likely to have a sweetened drink at least once a day later in life.
Health effects of sugar
Previous studies on the diet of children over the age of two found a link between sugar consumption and the formation of cavities in teeth, asthma, obesity, increased blood pressure and changes in lipid profiles.
How much sugar did the children eat?
The researchers analyzed the data from 1,211 infants and young children, which came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2011 to 2016. The results showed that infants consumed about a teaspoon of added sugar daily (which is about two percent of their daily calorie intake), while infants consumed about six teaspoons of sugar (about eight percent of their daily calorie intake).
After weaning, look for sugar in the diet
The main food sources for added sugar for infants were yogurt, baby snacks and sweets as well as sweet baked goods. For young children, fruit drinks, sweet baked goods and sweets were the main sources. Parents should be careful about adding sugar to foods when they stop breastfeeding their children. The transition from a milk-based diet to a normal diet has an impact on nutrition, taste preference and eating behavior later in life.
Further research on the subject is necessary
More research is needed to better understand this critical phase of food change. In general, beverages should be avoided where sugar has been added, such as flavored chocolate-flavored milk or drinks sweetened with sugar or sweetener. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Kirsten A. Herrick, Cheryl D. Fryar, Heather C. Hamner, Sohyun Park, Cynthia L. Ogden: Added Sugars Intake among US Infants and Toddlers, in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (query: November 14, 2019), Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics