Assessment of sugar intake in toddlers and preschoolers

A toddler is a child who aged between 12-36 months. Preschoolers are the children who gets enrolled in the early childhood program of the preparatory schools between the ages 3 and 5. Both these age are an intense period of physical growth and mental development of a child.

Childhood is the time for children to be in school and at the play, to grow strong and positive with the affection and assistance of their family. This age is a precious period to attain the intelligence in eating and developing liking and disliking of food. Establishment of good food habits and nutritional practices in early childhood promotes the foundation for adult well being.

Health Status

Growth is one pertinent symbol of a child's healthful state and is a tool to determine health and well-being of children. Practically, child growth is based on the combined indicators of length/height for age (stunting), weight for length/height (wasting), and weight for age (under-weight) etc. The ultimate crucial venture of growth failure is poor nutritional status, especially in early age. Adequate nutrition amount during childhood steadily buildup cognitive achievement and prevents outbreak of chronic diseases in later life. However, Researches announce that health problems as a result of distressed nutritional status in pre-school age children are the utmost familiar elements of lesser school admissions, deficient performances in classroom, high absence and premier dropout.

Eating Habits

Toddler period is a point of progress, especially between 12–24 months, when they learn to eat table food and accepting new tastes and textures[7]. They require a balanced proportion of protein, carbohydrates, fats and fruit and vegetables to be healthy. Toddlers have an intrinsic preferences for sweety and salty flavors and avoid bitter and sour tastes. One of the main factors for child’s attitude towards food is guardian’s manipulation. Parents regularly use food as a reward to make kids eat some vegetables and thus give them some desserts and chocolates loaded with sugars as a bounty and hence child’s desire raises for the bonus food and automatically reduces for the other food.

Despite majority of parents acknowledge their children’s habits related to healthy eating to be immense precedence, but maximum people need added instructions and knowledge to help their children reach the goals. Due to lack of knowledge mother’s keep on feeding their child with the excessive sugary drinks and other food items. Mothers are influenced by the television aids for using these easy breakfast options which are shown nutritious in visuals and are easy to serve, so they keep on serving these foods to kids without checking the foods labels due to unawareness. It is necessary for the kids to have a fresh and healthful morning meal but breakfasts as a result of engaged domiciliary is being replaced by cereals like chocos and cornflakes, canned fruit juices, chocolate spreads, jams , sauces, honey and flavored milk which are among the prime convicts of morning sugar intake. And hence, without realizing mothers kept on feeding their children with the excessive sugary breakfast which is more than their everyday recommendations of sugar. Whereas a healthy and effective morning meal can make an extensive improvement to children’s macro and micronutrients intake and its consumption can leads to numerous affirmative health scores.


The role of extreme sugar consumption on health and disease is presently a rapid area of scientific discussion. Sugars are the sum of all free mono and disaccharides which would include glucose, fructose, galactose, lactose and sucrose and maltose. Sugars can be found naturally in foods, including fruits and dairy products, in addition to those sugars that are added to foods during processing.

Added sugars

Added sugars are the sugars and syrups that are added to foods during processing or preparation excluding sugars naturally found in foods, such as fruits or dairy products.

Free sugars

The World Health Organization (WHO) uses the term “free sugar” rather than “added sugar” in their sugar recommendations. Hence, Free sugar includes added sugars as well as sugars naturally present in fruit juices as well as fruit juice concentrates.

WHO guidelines for sugar intake:

  1. WHO recommends a reduced intake of free sugars throughout the life course.
  2. In children, WHO recommends reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake.
  3. WHO suggests a further reduction of the intake of free sugars to below 5% of total energy intake.


Sugar based products served to children by mothers

The most commonly consumed sources of added sugar in the diet of toddlers and preschoolers come from table sugar, sweetened squash (sweetened concentrate to which water is added), jam, cookies, chocolates, sweetened soft drinks (carbonated), sweets (candy), cakes, muffins, ice-creams, cake-type desserts and breakfast cereal. Fruits and vegetable juices are the leading contributors among 2-8 year old children.

Consequences of over consumption of sugar

The role of extreme sugar consumption on health and disease is presently a rapid area of scientific discussion. Because dietary sugars has become an increasingly active public health issue in children over years which has been linked with various risk factors:

  • Dental caries

Dental caries is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases of the childhood. A dynamic relation exists between sugars and oral health. Diet affects the integrity of teeth, quantity, ph and composition of the saliva and plaque ph. Sugars and other fermentable carbohydrates, which are hydrolyzed by salivary amylase, provide substrate for the actions of oral bacteria, which in turn lower plaque and salivary ph. And, the resultant action is the beginning of tooth demineralization.

  • Overweight

Consumption of added sugars may predispose individuals to increase in adiposity, weight gain and ultimately obesity. The intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and other food items may promote weight gain and obesity by increasing overall energy intake. People often tend to eat the same amount of energy from sugary items that is required in a day from five food groups.

  • Cardiovascular disease

The risk of cardiovascular disease have been related to consumption of sugar-sweetened caloric intake. Dietary sugars may have differential effects on blood lipids. Diets containing greater than 20% of kcals from simple sugars may result in elevated fasting triglycerides which is a known risk factor for.

  • Sugar addiction

Eating foods high in sugar release massive amounts of dopamine into the nucleus accumbens area of the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is connected to reward motivation, while the nucleus accumbens is an area of the forebrain that is known to play a significant role in addictive behaviors. Many people develop sugar addiction because they see sugary foods as a reward. When thus correlated, the brain begins to desire more of that reward. Because sugar is a simple carbohydrate, it is transformed into glucose in the bloodstream, which provides quick energy to the body’s cells. Excessive, long-term ingestion of sugar may also eventually decrease dopamine levels in the brain, leaving people needing more and more sugar to meet their cravings. This is a sugar addiction.    


It is extremely important from an early age to explain to the child what is good for him and what can harm. The period of the toddler is the best time when parents can develop healthy eating skills in their child. Parents, the health of your child is in your hands.

29 April 2022
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