This perspective builds on the full collection of articles in this supplement to explore the influences that may impact a young child's sweet taste perception and dietary intake of sugar, as well as sugar's impact on lifelong dietary patterns and longer-term health status. The article acknowledges the current scientific and public interest in and concerns about sugar and the challenges in appropriate research designs for the age group of birth to 24 months. Sugar consumption, the mother-child feeding relationship, and the various social meanings given to sugar are discussed. Research gaps are highlighted. Recommendations are made to address the overall lack of pediatric data, social science insights, theory, and selected content issues, as well as the criteria by which studies are selected for inclusion in dietary guidelines formation. Examples of content gaps include the influence of portion size, dietary variety and balance, and the effect of sugar and nonnutritive sweeteners on the development of the gut microbiota. A call is made to increase funding for pediatric nutrition research.
Cheryl Achterberg, PhD, is the dean and a professor of nutrition in the College of Education and Human Ecology at the Ohio State University in Columbus.
No funding was received by the author for the preparation of this article which appears in the Nutrition Today supplement, Sweet Taste Perception and Feeding Toddlers, funded by The Sugar Association.
Dr Achterberg has received honoraria and/or travel support from the Dannon Institute, the American Society for Nutrition, the Alliance for Potato Research and Education, and Abbott Laboratories.
Correspondence: Cheryl Achterberg, PhD, College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University, 127 Arps Hall, 1945 N High St, Columbus, OH 43210-1172 (Achterberg.firstname.lastname@example.org).