New Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025 released by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services included recommendations for infants and toddlers for the first time since 1985, urging parents to avoid candy, cake and other added sugars for children under age 2 as obesity rates remain problematic.
“For the first time since the 1985 edition, this edition of the Dietary Guidelines includes recommendations for infants and toddlers as well as continuing the emphasis on healthy dietary patterns during pregnancy and lactation. This approach recognizes that each life stage is distinct—nutrient needs vary over the lifespan and each life stage has unique implications for food and beverage choices and disease risk,” experts wrote in the new published guidelines.
Among the top sources of added sugars for the U.S. population age 1 and older, the guide lists sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts and sweet snacks like cake and candy. Parents, the guidelines suggest, should try to avoid added sugars.
“Infants and young children have virtually no room in their diet for added sugars. This is because the nutrient requirements for infants and young children are quite high relative to their size, but the amount of complementary foods they consume is small. Complementary foods need to be nutrient-dense and not contain additional calories from added sugars,” the nutrition experts explained.
The experts said the nutrition recommendation for infants and toddlers is important because about one-third of infants in the U.S. are introduced to complementary foods and beverages before age 4 months. Early introduction of complementary foods and beverages was also found to be higher among infants receiving infant formula or a combination of infant formula and human milk than among infants exclusively fed human milk.