Children 2 to 18 should consume no more than about six teaspoons of added sugars in their daily diets, according to new recommendations from the American Heart Association.
Researchers called limiting a child's added sugar consumption to six teaspoons -- equivalent to about 100 calories or 25 grams -- "an important public health target" in a paper published in the journal Circulation on Monday. The paper outlines the new recommendations.
"A diet high in added sugars is strongly associated with weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, abnormal cholesterol and fatty liver disease in children and all of these increase future cardiovascular risk," said Dr. Miriam Vos, an associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and lead author of the paper.
"I hope that this statement helps parents and organizations that help care for children by providing an achievable goal," she said. "How much sugar is OK for kids has been a confusing issue for parents, and this statement provides a target that parents can understand, and that will make a huge difference for the health of children."
The researchers reviewed and analyzed more than 100 previous papers and studies on the cardiovascular health effects of added sugars on children published through November.
They also analyzed dietary data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on how much added sugar was consumed in the United States from 2009 to 2012.
The researchers concluded that children are currently consuming more than the newly recommended 25-grams-or-less of added sugars daily, on average.
The latest national dietary guidelines released by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotionrecommends limiting sweets so that added sugar makes up 10% or less of your daily calories.
That amount is "closely aligned with the new recommendations," Vos said. "The AHA statement provides a fixed amount, 25 grams, that is less than 10% of calories for most children and is easier for parents to understand."