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Added sugar displaces food groups lowering quality of preschooler diets

American preschoolers get about 14 to 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day, on average, mostly from fruit-flavored drinks, high-fat desserts and cola-type soft drinks which displace the grain, vegetable, fruit and dairy food groups and lower the quality of their diet, a Penn State study has shown.

Dr. Sibylle Kranz, assistant professor of nutritional sciences who led the study, says, "In contrast to other researchers, we found that although the most dramatic decrease in vitamin and mineral intakes were observed when children had added sugar levels of more than 25 percent of total calories, consumption of grains, vegetables, fruit and dairy products and the proportion of children receiving an adequate intake of calcium were low even at added sugar levels of less than 10 percent of calories."

"These results suggest that the new National Academy of Sciences Dietary Reference Intake which sets a cut-point of 25 percent or less of calories from added sugar are reason for concern," she adds. "The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid limits added sugar consumption to between 6 and 10 percent, and the World Health organization recommends limiting added sugar consumption to less than 10 percent."

The study is detailed in the January issue of the Journal of Pediatrics in a paper, "Adverse Effect of High Added Sugar Consumption on Dietary Intake in American Preschoolers. " Kranz's co-authors are Dr. Helen Smiciklas-Wright, professor of nutritional sciences; Dr. Anna Maria Siega-Riz, associate professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and Diane Mitchell, Penn State Diet Assessment Center coordinator.

The researchers analyzed the diets of 5437 preschoolers who participated in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals from 1994 to 1996 and 1998. The participants are a representative sample of U.S. preschoolers. Children with the highest level of added s
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Contact: Barbara Hale
bah@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
12-Jan-2005


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