Just a Spoonful of Sugar…

iStock_60596186_MEDIUMThose of us of a certain age, and the young at heart likely remember Mary Poppins, who crooned, "just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down..."  Now such a chant is likely to be met with boos from the medical establishment, as the august Circulation has weighed in on how much sugar a child should consume, and folks, as Rick and I discuss on PodMed this week, it's much less than a spoonful per day at least for the very young.

Keeping in mind that cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death worldwide, a writing group assessed all the available literature relative to the consumption of sugar in children and the development of said disease, or more properly, diseases that often result in cardiovascular outcomes. These were subsequently divided into five well-known conditions: diabetes and insulin resistance, obesity, high blood pressure, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and lipid aberrations. The inescapable fact emerged that such health problems developed at levels of sugar consumption far below what is currently recommended, specifically, depending on which guidelines are consulted, 6-10% of calories consumed per day.  Current NHANES data reports about 16% of calories for children consumed each day are from sugars.

What about changing such entrenched behaviors?  The study recommends that since no one really knows how much sugar is deleterious to the health of a child, things are simple:  no added sugar at all for children 0-2 years of age.  Children and adolescents may be able to consume approximately 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, but beverages should be limited to one eight ounce portion or less per week.  The committee opines that it wouldn't be bad for adults to get on board with these reductions either, since our worldwide problem with obesity continues unabated.

Other topics this week include a look at breast density and mammography frequency in Annals of Internal Medicine, and two from NEJM: a potential new treatment for essential tremor and the predictive value of genetic testing with regard to adjuvant chemotherapy in women with early breast cancer.  Until next week, y'all live well.


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