A new study suggests children in the US begin consuming added sugar at a very young age and that many toddlers’ sugar intake exceeds the maximum amount recommended for adults.

The study found 99% of a representative sample of US toddlers age 19-23 months consumed an average of just over seven teaspoons of added sugar on a given day –more than the amount in a Snicker's bar.

Sixty per cent of children were found to consume added sugar before age one.

Added sugar consumption has been linked with obesity, dental caries, asthma and risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Eating foods with added sugar also can influence a child's food preferences, potentially leading to less healthy food choices later in life, researchers say.

Lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said: ‘Our results show that added sugar consumption begins early in life and exceeds current recommendations. These data may be relevant to the upcoming 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.’

The results indicate that 85% of infants and toddlers consumed added sugar on a given day. Added sugar consumption rose with age. At age 6-11 months, just over 60% of babies consumed added sugar on a given day – averaging just under one teaspoon. Among those age 12-18 months, 98% consumed added sugar, averaging 5.5 teaspoons. By 19-23 months, 99% of children consumed an average of just over 7 teaspoons of added sugar on a given day.

The team plans to further investigate the data, including examining trends over time. Other studies have suggested added sugar consumption among American children has declined over the years.