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How much sugar can I actually give my young child?

 In Ask an Expert, Health Tips, Pediatrics, Pulse Blog

Q: How much sugar is too much for kids?

Babies are born with a preference for sweets, and research shows that humans are naturally drawn to sweet tastes. Enjoying foods with added sugar, like cookies, can be part of a healthy diet when eaten occasionally and in appropriate portion sizes. Look at the package labeling for serving size suggestions, keeping in mind that children less than 12 years old should be consuming about half of the recommended serving size.

The American Heart Association recommends children consume no more than 24 grams (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day. Consuming foods and beverages with added sugar in excess of this recommendation can, over time, contribute to weight gain and dental cavities.

Indulge your child’s sweet tooth on occasion. On other days, tame the sweet tooth with healthy sweets such as fruit, applesauce, 100 percent fruit popsicles, and smoothies made with lots of fruit and some plain yogurt.

Here’s a fun recipe to try at home. These popsicles are smooth and sweet and use only a little bit of sugar:

Creamy banana and brown sugar popsicles

from Whole Foods Market, adapted by Dr. Weiss

3 medium bananas
1 cup plain Greek (or regular) yogurt
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a food processor purée bananas and yogurt until very smooth. Add sugar and cinnamon and mix briefly. Pour into molds and freeze eight hours or overnight.

Dr. Valerie Weiss, pediatrician at The Vancouver Clinic

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