Leading health organizations agree, Stop the added sugar drinks in young children

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association Recommend Breast Milk, Infant Formula, Water and Plain Milk for Babies and Kids

News Release, American Heart Association

Princeton, NJ,  September 18, 2019—Leading medical and nutrition organizations recommend breast milk, infant formula, water, and plain milk as part of a new set of comprehensive beverage recommendations for children, outlined by age (birth through age 5). They caution against beverages that are sources of added sugars in young children’s diets, including flavored milks (e.g., chocolate, strawberry) and sugar- and low-calorie sweetened beverages, in addition to a wide variety of beverages that are on the market and targeted to children such as toddler formulas, caffeinated beverages, and plant-based/non-dairy milks* (e.g., almond, rice, oat), which provide no unique nutritional value.

“Early childhood is an important time to start shaping nutrition habits and promoting healthy beverage consumption,” said Megan Lott, MPH, RD, Deputy Director of Healthy Eating Research, which convened the expert panel. “By providing caregivers, health care and early care and education providers, policymakers, and beverage industry representatives a clear set of objective, science-based recommendations for healthy drink consumption, we can use this opportunity to work together and improve the health and well-being of infants and young children throughout the United States.”

The recommendations were developed as part of an unprecedented collaboration by experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy)American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Heart Association (AHA) under the leadership of Healthy Eating Research (HER), a leading nutrition research organization, and with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

“From the time children are born through those first few years, beverages are a significant source of calories and nutrients and can have a big impact on health long into the future,” said Richard Besser, MD, President, and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Families deserve clear and consistent guidance on what their young children should drink and what they should avoid. These recommendations from our country’s leading medical and nutrition organizations will help families raise healthy children.” 

Healthy Beverage Recommendations: A Snapshot

The recommendations outlined below by age are intended for healthy children in the United States and do not address medical situations in which specific nutrition guidance is needed to manage a health condition or specific dietary choices such as abstaining from animal products.  (See infographic on the right column.)

Research shows that what children drink from birth through age 5 has a big impact on their health – both now and for years to come. While every child is different, the nation’s leading health organizations agree that for most kids, the following recommendations can help to set children on a path for healthy growth and development. As always, consult with your health care provider about your child’s individual needs. 

  • All children 5 and under should avoid drinking flavored milks, toddler formulas, plant-based/non-dairy milks*, caffeinated beverages and sugar- and low-calorie sweetened beverages, as these beverages can be big sources of added sugars in young children’s diets and provide no unique nutritional value.
  • 0-6 months: Babies need only breast milk or infant formula to get enough fluids and proper nutrition.
  • 6-12 months: In addition to breast milk or infant formula, offer a small amount of drinking water once solid foods are introduced to help babies get familiar with the taste – just a few sips at mealtimes is all it takes. It’s best for children under 1 not to drink juice. Even 100% fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit.
  • 12-24 months: It’s time to add whole milk, which has many essential nutrients, along with plain drinking water for hydration. A small amount of juice is ok, but make sure it’s 100% fruit juice to avoid added sugar. Better yet, serve small pieces of real fruit, which is even healthier.
  • 2-5 years: Milk and water are the go-to beverages. Look for milks with less fat than whole milk, like skim (non-fat) or low-fat (1%). If you choose to serve 100% fruit juice, stick to a small amount, and remember adding water can make a little go a long way! 

See the full guidelines and learn more at HEALTHYDRINKSHEALTHYKIDS.ORG


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