If you’re worried about how much sugar your kids are eating, it’s time to take a second look at how much they’re drinking. New research confirms that children and teens are downing far too much sugar from sweetened drinks. A study from the CDC shows that two-thirds of kids in the U.S. drink at least one sugary beverage per day (think soda, sports drinks, or sweet coffee drinks). The report also found that boys drink slightly more on average: 20% of boys have 2 or more sugary drinks per day, compared to 18% of girls.
Since added sugar contributes to health issues such as weight gain, heart disease, high blood sugar, and cavities, there are plenty of reasons to keep kids from slurping it down daily. The American Heart Association recommends that children and teens limit sugar-sweetened drinks to 8 ounces per week — that’s less than a regular 12-ounce soda can.
As an overall daily limit on added sugar, young people should get less than 6 tablespoons (which is about 100 calories or 25 grams). Compare that to the whopping 39 grams of sugar found in a 12-ounce can of soda. Plus, with added sugar hiding in seemingly innocent foods like pasta sauce, yogurt, and salad dressing, it’s all too easy for children and teens to go over the limit in just one meal — without accounting for treats. In addition to cutting back on sugary sodas and other sweet drinks, experts recommend that kids should avoid processed foods and baked goods like cookies, cakes, and sweet cereals.