Sugar Association AHA

The Sugar Association issued a statement Aug. 24 taking issue with the American Heart Association’s recommendation that children between the ages of 2 and 18 should eat or drink less than 25 grams of added sugars daily.

“The release of the A.H.A.’s scientific statement on added sugars and kids is baffling,” the association said in a statement. “In a year where both the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (ages 2 years and up) and the Food and Drug Administration’s final labeling rule (ages 4 years and up) issued a 10% target for added sugars in an effort to provide Americans a tool to help build a healthy diet, the A.H.A. is releasing their own vastly different recommendations.”

The A.H.A.’s statement was written by a panel of experts who did a review of scientific research on the effect of added sugars on children’s health, which presented challenges common to this kind of nutrition research. The full study will be published in the journal Circulation.

“Studies of nutrients such as added sugars are challenging, but over time the number of studies in children has increased,” says Miriam Vos, associate professor of pediatrics at the Emory State University School of Medicine, Atlanta. “We believe the scientific evidence for our recommendations is strong and having a specific amount to target will significantly help parents and public health advocates provide the best nutrition possible for our children.”

The Sugar Association took issue with the A.H.A.’s methodology, citing the lack of science behind it.

“The A.H.A. is recommending 6 teaspoons of added sugars for an active 16- to 18-year-old boy — this is just 3% of his calories,” the Sugar Association statement said. “Where is the science to support this? The conversation around added sugars has gotten out of control and the beliefs of individuals are trumping what the scientific evidence actually shows. Case in point — the A.H.A. even states that ‘group consensus’ was used to develop these recommendations.

“We all want kids in the U.S. and around the world to be healthy — that is a given. But the added sugars dialogue has lost its scientific integrity. A.H.A.’s hyper-focus on added sugars contradicts the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which historically has been the expert voice on children’s diets.”