Good Housekeeping

This Is How Much Sugar Kids Should Actually Be Eating

While we all know that kids love sugar, and it can sometimes be tough to get them to eat right, most of us didn’t really know the exact sugar cut-off amount until now.

The American Heart Association has released a new study telling us just that. According to their “Circulation” journal, that amount is 6 teaspoons. If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking “oh, 6 teaspoons sounds like a lot. That should be a pretty easy goal to keep…” Unfortunately, it’s less than it seems. This is mostly because that added sugar (like fructose, table sugar and honey) is hidden in some of the most unexpected places.

When reviewing your child’s diet and considering how much sugar is being consumed, note the juice boxes -- which you might have thought were healthy (try getting the “no sugar added” kind for a much healthier juice) -- apple sauce and breakfast cereal. Each of these items has the potential to be very high in added sugar.

Now, we’re only looking at added sugar. This means sugar that resides in processed food or drinks. The natural sugar in fruits is still okay. Popsugar reports that 6 teaspoons is the equivalent of about 100 calories, or 25 grams. This comparison should help with further calculations, since many nutrition labels list sugar in grams.

As you may well know, high sugar intake in kids (ages 2-18, so yes, even kids who don’t like to be called kids are included here) can lead to severe health conditions down the road. Some of these include weight gain, obesity, high cholesterol and cardiovascular risk. According to Popsugar, one soda can consists of 33 grams of added sugar…that’s 8 grams over the recommended daily amount. Surprising, isn’t it?

Good Housekeeping put together this great graph to help identify some of the high sugar offenders that might catch you by surprise. Take a look:

For many of these, replacements with lower sugar can actually be pretty easy to find. For example, applesauce and juice come in varieties with lower sugar and both even offer some options with no added sugar at all.