How much sugar is okay for kids?

author:  Kelly Gill, MS, RD, CSSD, LD


I was asked the following question:

When I’m getting snacks or breakfast foods for my kids, how many grams of sugar is ok?  Is there a standard rule you want to try to stay under?

My answer is to look at the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, which advises that added sugar not exceed 10% of our total calories.


Watch this video, where I answer this question in 1:28 minutes.



So, the next logical question is, “how many calories do kids need?”  Then we can calculate the recommended upper limit of added sugar.


Here are some factors that affect calorie needs:  gender, activity, size.  Boys usually burn more calories than girls.  Plus, the bigger and more active the kid, the more calories that child needs.


This chart includes an estimation of the amount of calories kids need per day.  Then, I’ve calculated 10% of calories from added sugar and converted that into grams of added sugar.





Remember, these totals are for grams of added sugar per day.  This is not total sugar.  There is sugar that is intrinsic in some foods like fruit and dairy.  These recommendations exclude natural sugar.


In the above video, I specifically talk about cereal for kids.  The reality is that kids (and a lot of adults) love cereal.  So, if you do get cereal, buy the cereal with the least amount of sugar that will still get eaten.  Additionally, look for snacks and other breakfast foods with the least amount of sugar on the label.


I’m very excited about the new food label starting in 2018.  It will include ADDED sugar (distinguishing it from the naturally occurring sugar in fruit and milk).  That information will make deciphering added sugar from natural sugar possible!



Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *