The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated every five years, and the newest edition was recently released. Written with health professionals and policy makers in mind, the guidelines provide evidence-based advice for Americans on how to achieve a healthy and nutritionally adequate diet. As a health professional, you can help your patients maintain good health and prevent chronic disease by encouraging healthy food and beverage choices at every life stage. Here is what you need to know about what the new guidelines say about added sugar and how you can incorporate them into your practice:

Infants and toddlers: Avoid added sugar. Because of high nutrition needs, infants and toddlers virtually have no room in their diets for added sugar.  On average, toddlers are currently consuming 2.5 – 16 teaspoons of added sugar/day. Sugary drinks, especially fruit drinks, contribute 25% of this intake and sweet bakery products contribute 15%.

Children aged 2 and up: Limit added sugar to less than 10% of added calories. This recommendation is similar to previous versions of the Dietary Guidelines. Sugary drinks are a top contributor to children’s caloric intake. On average, young children consume 11% and adolescents consume 15% of their daily calories from sugary drinks.

Adults: Limit added sugar to less than 10% of added calories. Most adults exceed this recommendation with added sugar intakes ranging between 270-310 kcal/day. Sugary drinks can contribute to up to 40% of daily added sugars. Other sources of added sugar include desserts, sweet snacks, and breakfast cereals.

What this means for your practice: Decreasing consumption of added sugar, especially from sugary drinks, can help children and adults of all ages achieve a healthy diet. By recommending water and low-fat or fat-free milk to your patients and their parents or guardians, you can help families stay healthy and meet nutrient needs. Rethink Your Drink Nevada has information, tips, and sugar-free drink recipes for families.

Original citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 9th Edition. December 2020.

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