New Delhi, March 29 : Nearly two-thirds of infants and almost all toddlers consume added sugars in their average daily diets; primarily in the form of flavoured yogurts and fruit drinks, a study has found.
A large majority of infants between 6-11 months (61 percent) and toddlers between 12-23 months of age (98 percent) consume these sugars - possibly laying early foundations to unhealthy eating habits, found a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, published by Elsevier.
"Our study, which is the first to look at trends in added sugars consumption by infants and toddlers, documents that most infants and toddlers consume added sugars. This has important public health implications since previous research has shown that eating patterns established early in life shape later eating patterns," explained lead investigator Kirsten A. Herrick.
She cited an earlier study that found that 6-year-olds who had consumed any sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) before the age of one were more than twice as likely to consume an SSB at least once a day compared to 6-year-olds who had not consumed any before the age of one.
Dr. Herrick noted, "Previous research into the diets of children over two years old associated sugar consumption with the development of cavities, asthma, obesity, elevated blood pressure and altered lipid profiles." The findings showed that infants consumed about 1 teaspoon of added sugars daily (equivalent to about 2 percent of their daily caloric intake), while toddlers consumed about 6 tsp of sugars (about 8 percent of their daily caloric intake).
The top food sources of added sugars for infants included yogurt, baby snacks and sweets, and sweet bakery products. For toddlers, the top sources included fruit drinks, sweet and baked products, and sugar and candy.
According to Dr. Herrick, parents should be mindful of added sugars levels in the foods chosen when weaning their infants.
" The transition from a milk-based diet (breast milk and formula) to table foods has an impact on nutrition, taste preference, and eating patterns. More work is needed to understand this critical period." She recommends discussing which solid foods to introduce during weaning with a child's healthcare provider.