Risks of High Sugar Intake in Toddlers

About 44 percent of toddlers consume sugary beverages on a daily basis, the Centers for Disease Control reports.

The amount of calories in the average toddler's diet has increased by 83 since 1977, due largely to added sugar in foods and drinks, the CDC notes. Not only do many toddlers consume far too much sugar, but they are also at an increased risk of certain health conditions because of it.

Weight Gain

When your toddler consumes large amounts of sugar, she is at an increased risk for unhealthy weight gain. Added sugar in soda, baked goods, desserts and processed foods increases the calorie content of the food.

If your toddler eats a lot of these types of food, she is consuming more calories than she needs for normal growth and development. Over time, she will gain weight. Continuous weight gain can lead to obesity.

Tooth Decay

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When your child's teeth are constantly exposed to sugar, she is more likely to develop dental cavities and decay. Sugar encourages bacteria to grow on the surface of your toddler's teeth. Over time, the bacteria can cause cavities to develop. The amount of sugary foods and beverages your child drinks plays a significant role in how likely she is to develop decay, the MedlinePlus website reports. The longer your toddler's teeth are in contact with sugar, the easier it is for cavities to grow.

Health Problems

Added sugar can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. If this happens on a regular basis, your toddler is at an increased risk of diabetes.

Your toddler might also be at a higher risk for heart disease if she consumes too much sugar. A 2009 study published in "Circulation," a journal from the American Heart Association, found that consuming too much sugar can contribute to the development of heart disease.

If your toddler eats and drinks too many sugary foods and drinks, she might be lacking in certain nutrients such as calcium. Over time, nutritional deficiencies can lead to health problems such as osteoporosis.

Recommendations and Solutions

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Toddlers should limit their intake of sugar to between 5 and 15 percent of their total caloric consumption. The less added sugar she eats, the better for her health. Read ingredient and nutrition labels to determine how much sugar your child consumes. Look for white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey and crystal dextrose on ingredient labels. Each of these signal the presence of added sugar.

Limit these foods in your toddler's diet. Don't serve her soda or fruit-flavored drinks. These are the leading contributor of added sugar in children's diets. Offer plenty of fruits, vegetables, milk, lean meat, whole grains and water to cut sugar intake and improve your child's overall health.