The American Heart Association announced this August that kids should consume no more than six teaspoons (about 100 calories) of added sugar a day. The AHA data also revealed that the average child currently consumes 80 grams of sugar every day—about 19 teaspoons, which is three times the suggested limit.
We all know sugar intake in America has been excessive for many years. This August, First Lady Michelle Obama debuted the nation’s updated Nutrition Facts labels – the first changes in more than twenty years – which will require food companies to list how much sugar they add to their products and suggest a limit for how much added sugar people should consume. Both changes are vehemently opposed by many food companies.
The new labels won’t look much different but calories are listed in a larger and bolder font and standard serving sizes are also being updated to align with the larger portions people actually eat. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required as Americans generally get enough of these, but Vitamin D and potassium will be now be listed along with calcium and iron. By far, mandating that companies disclose added sugars and provide a new percent of Daily Value for added sugars, is the most controversial aspect of the final rule which will begin to take affect in grocery stores in the next 2-3 years.
The AHA reports that connections between added sugars and increased cardiovascular disease risk factors among children in the US are present at levels far below current consumption levels, and the World Health Organization also recommends the six teaspoons limit.
The graphic to the left gives an idea of what the new recommendations on added sugar would look like in daily practice. It’s clear that dramatic changes to eating habits will need to be adopted, and that the shift will require engaging kids to be part of the decision making process before any progress will take affect.
What is your school doing to promote awareness about added sugar? WFIS encourages you to share your ideas, successes and even failed attempts here.