October 2016 Issue

Editor's Spot: Sugar's Bad Rap
By Judith Riddle
Today's Dietitian
Vol. 18, No. 10, P. 4

While I was growing up, my mother limited the number of sweets my brother and I ate and declared them off limits if dinnertime was near. Each summer when Mister Softee drove down our street just before supper, my mother always let us buy ice cream and store it in the freezer until after we ate. My mother wasn't a dietitian, but somehow she knew that filling up on sweets was not a good thing.

Unlike those many decades ago, today we have ample evidence showing that eating too much added sugar can ruin our health—namely our cardiovascular health. On the heels of the new 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which limits daily added sugar intake to 10% of total calories, and the FDA's final rule requiring all Nutrition Facts labels to include a line for "Added Sugars" and %DV for added sugars, comes the American Heart Association's (AHA) first-ever scientific statement recommending that children and teens aged 2 to 18 consume less than six teaspoons (25 g) of added sugars per day and no more than 8 oz of sugar-sweetened beverages per week.

This is going to be tough for many parents to enforce and kids to accept, as most children already eat about three times the recommended amount of added sugars per day (16% of calories), one-half from food and one-half from drinks. But the AHA's recommendation is a significant one for dietitians to discuss with parents of young children and teens. RDs must offer parents creative ideas and strategies on how to reduce their kids' added sugar intake. Studies have shown, and continue to show, an association between diets high in added sugars and heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in children. In a future issue, Today's Dietitian will cover the perils of excessive added sugar intake in children and how to counsel clients.

Thanks to the new nutrition standards mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, many strides have been made to provide healthful foods and snacks to school-age children who participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. Schools are serving more varieties of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and placing stricter limits on sodium and sugar. Snacks such as baked goods, potato chips, ice cream, and soda sold in vending machines, school stores, and on à la carte menus can derive no more than 35% of total kcal from sugar.

In addition, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), a federal nutrition assistance program, also has reduced the amount of added sugar in meals and snacks served. To learn more about CACFP, turn to "The Child and Adult Care Food Program" on page 36.

Other features include articles on low-fat vegan diets, dairy fats, anti-inflammatory foods for osteoarthritis, coconut oil, and our exclusive interview with reality TV series winner Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD. Please enjoy the issue!

Judith Riddle