There has been a lot of fretting lately about just how much sugar we're all consuming, but we are particularly freaked out about what our kids are eating. Well, now it turns out we're right to worry because they are eating a shit-ton of sugar every day. Why? Well, for the same reason we grown-ups do: because having chocolate-covered cereal for breakfast is a lot more appealing than having sautéed vegetables and egg whites. And its hard to resist when it's coming at you from all sides, not just in candy and sodas but in everything else too.
Just how bad is this problem? According to data just released from the National Center for Health Statistics (which is part of the CDC), kids are eating an average of 322 calories of added sugar a day, which makes up about 16 percent of their daily caloric intake. Whoa. Boys eat an average of 362 calories of it per day; whereas girls only take in an average of 282 calories.
When we talk about added sugars, that includes table sugar and things like maple syrup, but also sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup and other caloric sweeteners that are used in processed foods and drinks. It does not include the natural sugars that occur in fruit and 100 percent fruit juice.
So where are kids getting their whopping doses of sugar from? Well, 59 percent of it is from food and 41 percent from beverages. No surprise, soft drinks are the biggest single source of added sugars. But epidemiologist Cynthia Ogden, lead author of the report, says its important to be mindful that sugar is in almost everything kids eat:
Soda consumption is high, but we shouldn't lose sight of the added sugars in foods such as muffins, cookies, sugar-sweetened cereals and pasta sauces. Many processed foods have added sugars. Those foods contribute more than the beverages.
As much as it's tempting to blame this problem on kids eating junk at school while not under the watchful eye of their parents, in fact that is not the case. It turns out 63 percent of the sugar calories kids eat are consumed at home.