The following is a statement from Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on the release of the American Heart Association’s guidance concerning children’s intake of added sugars.
“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) commends the American Heart Association (AHA) for establishing specific guidance concerning children’s intake of added sugars: no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories per day for 2- to 18-year-olds and no added sugars for children under age 2 years. The social, emotional, and physical development of all children is a core component of RWJF’s mission to build a Culture of Health. This new guidance, developed following rigorous scientific analysis by leading national experts, is a watershed moment in our ongoing efforts to help children and families lead healthier lives.
In 2015, as part of our most recent $500 million commitment to help all children achieve a healthy weight, RWJF endorsed eliminating consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages—the leading source of added sugars in kids’ diets—among young children. As a result, we strongly agree with this scientific recommendation that children under age 2 should not consume any added sugars. We further support the responsible limits recommended for children ages 2 to 18.
This guidance builds on several notable developments that demonstrate an encouraging national commitment to healthy eating. Over the past several years, schools across the country have made significant strides in eliminating sugary beverages and foods from cafeterias and vending machines and replacing them with healthier options. Looking ahead, the updated Nutrition Facts panel that will require food and beverage companies to clearly indicate the amount of added sugars on packaged items—along with national menu labeling rules covering chain restaurants and grocery stores—is poised to help parents and consumers make healthy choices. We urge industry leaders to build on these efforts by following this guidance closely as they develop, reformulate, and market foods and beverages intended for children.
Reducing the amount of added sugars children consume is one of the smartest, most effective strategies we can pursue to reverse the national childhood obesity epidemic. Parents, policymakers, industry leaders, health advocates, and communities all share the responsibility for ensuring that this guidance swiftly becomes a part of our national nutrition fabric.”
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others, including the American Heart Association, to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.
About Voices for Healthy Kids
Voices for Healthy Kids is a joint initiative of RWJF and AHA that works to help all young people eat healthier foods and be more active. For more information, visit voicesforhealthykids.org.