Added Sugars Intake among US Infants and Toddlers

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2020 Jan;120(1):23-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2019.09.007. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


Background: Limited information is available on added sugars consumption in US infants and toddlers.

Objectives: To present national estimates of added sugars intake among US infants and toddlers by sociodemographic characteristics, to identify top sources of added sugars, and to examine trends in added sugars intake.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of 1 day of 24-hour dietary recall data.

Participants/setting: A nationally representative sample of US infants aged 0 to 11 months and toddlers aged 12 to 23 months (n=1,211) during the period from 2011 through 2016 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Trends were assessed from 2005-2006 through 2015-2016 (n=2,795).

Main outcome measures: Among infants and toddlers, the proportion consuming any added sugars, the average amount of added sugars consumed, percent of total energy from added sugars, and top sources of added sugars intake.

Statistical analysis: Paired t tests were used to compare differences by age, sex, race/Hispanic origin, family income level, and head of household education level. Trends were tested using orthogonal polynomials. Significance was set at P<0.05.

Results: During 2011 to 2016, 84.4% of infants and toddlers consumed added sugars on a given day. A greater proportion of toddlers (98.3%) consumed added sugars than infants (60.6%). The mean amount of added sugars toddlers consumed was also more compared with infants (5.8 vs 0.9 tsp). Non-Hispanic black toddlers (8.2 tsp) consumed more added sugars than non-Hispanic Asian (3.7 tsp), non-Hispanic white (5.3 tsp), and Hispanic (5.9 tsp) toddlers. A similar pattern was observed for percent energy from added sugars. For infants, top sources of added sugars were yogurt, baby food snacks/sweets, and sweet bakery products; top sources among toddlers were fruit drinks, sugars/sweets, and sweet bakery products. The mean amount of added sugars decreased from 2005-2006 through 2015-2016 for both age groups; however, percent energy from added sugars only decreased among infants.

Conclusion: Added sugars intake was observed among infants/toddlers and varied by age and race and Hispanic origin. Added sugars intake, as a percent of energy, decreased only among infants from 2005 to 2016.

Keywords: Added sugars; Infants; Nutrition; Survey; Toddlers.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / ethnology
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Sugars / analysis*
  • Energy Intake
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food / analysis*
  • Male
  • United States


  • Dietary Sugars