Simplified and age-appropriate recommendations for added sugars in children

Pediatr Obes. 2018 Apr;13(4):269-272. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12235. Epub 2017 Sep 18.


Excess sugar intake increases risk for obesity and related comorbidities among children. The World Health Organization (WHO), American Heart Association (AHA) and the 2015 USDA dietary recommendations have proposed guidelines for added sugar intake to reduce risk for disease. WHO and USDA recommendations are presented as a percentage of daily calories from added sugar. This approach is not easily understood or translated to children, where energy needs increase with age. The AHA recommendation is based on a fixed value of 25 g of added sugar for all children 2-19 years of age. This approach does not take into account the different levels of intake across this wide age range. Due to these limitations, we adapted current recommendations for added sugars based on daily energy needs of children 2-19 years. We used those values to derive simple regression equations to predict grams or teaspoons of added sugars per day based on age that would be equivalent to 10% of daily energy needs. This proposed approach aligns with the changing nutritional needs of children and adolescents during growth.

Keywords: Added sugar; children; free sugars; infants.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet
  • Dietary Sugars / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Primary Prevention
  • United States
  • World Health Organization


  • Dietary Sugars