How Much Added Sugar Should You and Your Kids Have?

This morning I was having coffee with a group of people that I run with on Tuesdays and Thursdays. One of the guys had gotten a ($5) green veggie/fruit drink and our group started discussing whether or not this was actually a healthy drink, since the label clearly advertised it as such. We all agreed that it was expensive! But was it healthy? While it listed some vitamins, it also listed that it had 52 grams of sugar.

It’s so confusing. The labels tout the health benefits of drinking your vegetables, but 52 grams of sugar? That sounded like a lot. I wish they would put things in teaspoons rather than grams. We all felt that it had way too much sugar, but what do we know? I decided to do what all confused people do – I Googled it.

Turns out that according to the American Heart Association, we were right. Adult men should only consume a maximum of 37.5 grams of added sugar per day. That translates to 150 calories and 9 teaspoons. For women, the total drops to 25 grams a day, which is 100 calories or 6 teaspoons. So that healthy green veggie drink was full of added sugar – twice as much as an adult woman should have in a day! It would be like taking a cup of coffee and adding 12 teaspoons of sugar to it.

Coincidentally, I got an e-newsletter today from Science Daily describing the recommendations from the American Heart Association for the amount of daily added sugar that children should consume. The recommendation for kids ages 2 to 18 is less than six teaspoons of added sugars daily in either food or drinks. That would be less than 25 grams or about 100 calories for you label readers.

The researchers note that kids who eat a lot of food and drinks with added sugars tend to eat less healthy food, putting them at risk for heart disease and diabetes. They also point out that the typical American kid “consumes about TRIPLE the recommended amount of added sugars.” (emphasis mine)

So, what about kids younger than age 2? The recommendation there is that they should have NO added sugars. Their calorie needs are so low that adding sugar does not provide good nutrition and it encourages bad life-long eating habits.

If your kids are eating healthy foods, there just isn’t enough room to have low-nutrition junk foods or foods with lots of added sugars. And, be sure to check those “healthy” fruit drinks and sports drinks for sugar content. The recommendation is that children shouldn’t have more than one 8-ounce sugar-sweetened drink a week.

So, now we know. You might want to rethink your kids’ lunches and snacks. I’m sending a text to my running group.

Categories: Editor’s Blog