(ABC News) — Children and teens from the ages of 2 to 18 should consume no more than 25 grams of sugar a day, according to new guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (AHA).
The AHA is also recommending that children younger than 2 should consume no foods or drinks with added sugars.
“Strong evidence supports the association of added sugars with increased cardiovascular disease risk in children through increased energy intake, increased adiposity and dyslipidemia,” the AHA said in its scientific statement released Monday.
The guidelines mean that these children and teens can have roughly 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily, amounting to around 100 calories.
Translated to every day foods, kids’ sugar intake should not exceed what is found in two bowls of spaghetti with tomato sauce or four corn dogs or three cheeseburgers.
“We’re talking about added sugar, not the naturally occurring sugars found in dairy products or fruit and really there is mounting evidence that sugar is the major culprit, probably more so than fat and salt, in our diets,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ senior medical contributor, who has a master’s degree in nutrition.
“We know it triggers addiction centers in the brain. It triggers inflammation in our body, the stimulation of fat around our organs,” Ashton said of added sugar. “All of that puts on a pathway to heart disease.”
The AHA also advised that children should have no more than one sugar-sweetened beverage per week.
Ashton recommends making children a smoothie made with low-fat milk and berries instead of buying them a sugary drink.
She said the AHA is targeting “future heart patients” with the new guidelines.
“American Heart Association [is] taking the lead in targeting future patients that they don’t want to have heart disease,” she added.