How Much Sugar Should My Child Consume

May 04, 2022

Joe D Staff

mother and daughters preparing salad

Everyone loves sugar. It adds flavor and sweetness to foods that make them more fun to eat. But too much sugar for adults or kids can be a problem, increasing the long-term risk of obesity, diabetes, and other diseases.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that:

  • kids under age two consume no added sugar, and
  • kids over age two consume less than 25 grams of added sugar each day (two tablespoons).

What is “added sugar?”

Some sugars occur naturally in foods. For instance, all fruits contain fructose, and all milk products contain lactose. Both fructose and lactose are sugars. So, it’s okay for your child to get sugar from these healthy sources.

Added sugar is sugar that food manufacturers put in food. It’s added to cookies, cakes, juices, soda, sports drinks and many other products. This type of sugar is the one you should look out for in your kids’ food. Luckily, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has made it easier for you to spot added sugars. If you look at the label on any food, you’ll see two lines:

nutrition label with total and added sugar highlighted

  • Total Sugars
  • Includes Xg Added Sugar (you want this line to say 0 grams of added sugar whenever possible)

As you look at labels, you might find that added sugars are in more foods than you think. You can find added sugar in unexpected foods like:

  • Applesauce or other packaged fruit
  • Cereal and granola
  • Fruit gummies
  • Ketchup
  • Sauces
  • Yogurts

The more you look at labels, the better you’ll be at finding healthy snacks and meals for your kids, and yourself.

Everyday Ways to Decrease Sugar Intake

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to get sugar out of your child’s diet, such as:

  • Choose foods with less than 10g of added sugar in a serving.
  • Choose unsweetened applesauce or other unsweetened fruit snacks.
  • Avoid or limit intake of sweetened beverages like soda, sports drinks and juices.
  • Make homemade goodies so you can control the amount of sugar.
  • Stick to plain yogurts and add fresh fruit (as opposed to canned in heavy syrup) or cinnamon.

And remember, you can never go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains at snack time.

If you are concerned about your child’s sugar intake, diet, or risk for diabetes and other health concerns or diseases, talk to your trusted pediatrician, or ask for a referral to a registered dietitian at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital for more help. They can help you make healthy changes to your child’s life so they can grow up happy, healthy and strong.