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When Do Americans Develop a Sweet Tooth?

A study suggests that children under two years old have a sweet tooth. Their diets have a surprising amount of added sugar.

How early do Americans develop their sweet tooth and a taste for added sugar? A new study found that 99 percent of toddlers less than two years old consumed more than seven teaspoons of added sugar a day. Sixty percent of these youngsters started consuming sweetened foods before their first birthday. These findings were presented at the Society for Nutrition annual meeting, Nutrition 2018, Boston, June 10, 2018.

What’s Wrong With a Sweet Tooth?

Pediatricians worry about kids getting excess sugar because it can contribute to asthma and set them up for heart disease later. Youngsters who consume a lot of sugar may also develop tooth decay and weight problems. The data covered more than 800 babies and toddlers participating with their parents in the 2011-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The parents recorded everything the children ate or drank during a 24-hour period.

How Much Sugar Are Kids Eating?

About 60 percent of babies under one year old got almost one teaspoon of added sugar. But by the time they were a year to a year and a half old, 98 percent of the kids were getting foods with extra sugar, an average of just over five teaspoons daily. The scientists suggest that parents may want to reduce the amount of sugar their babies are eating.

Although humans generally like sweet tastes, such as are found in fruit, babies around the world learn to eat what they are fed. Perhaps American kids would fare better with less of a sweet tooth.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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