Added sugar is everywhere in the modern diet, lurking in many unexpected foods we assume are otherwise healthy. That means we’re often eating the sweet stuff and don’t even know it.
The fact is, 80 percent of the 600,000 consumer packaged foods in the United States have added sugar, according to Robert Lustig, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). And here’s another sugar shocker: The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that Americans consume over 110 pounds (or about 22 five-pound bags) of added sugar per year. Break that down to the daily level, and we’re way over the recommended limit, downing the equivalent of 22 teaspoons (or 88 grams) of added sugars a day.
The Side Effects of Added Sugars
Science shows the consumption of added sugar in vast quantities can wreak havoc on our bodies over time. Both the AHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that the added sugars in sodas, baked goods, and other processed foods are likely responsible for the increase in calorie consumption and the subsequent rise in obesity among American adults and children over the past few decades.
Today, approximately two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. That’s not even the worst part: In addition to its association with obesity, excess sugar consumption has been linked to many more serious health conditions such as food addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cavities, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, fatty liver, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Daily Recommendation for Added Sugar
It’s important to note that the big no-no for your health is the sugar that’s added to food and beverages during preparation or processing. Naturally-occurring sugars—those found in small amounts in fruits, vegetables, and milk—are not the problem. These foods contain important nutrients or are often high in fiber (or commonly paired with high-fiber foods), which slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
The AHA recommends women should max out at the equivalent of 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of added sugars daily; men should stop at 9 teaspoons (36 grams). If you have any health conditions that are influenced by sugar consumption, it is best to minimize or completely eliminate added sugar.
Added Sugars in Sports Drinks
With all those cool commercials featuring famous athletes guzzling colorful concoctions, sports drinks are a marketer’s dream—and we’re buying it. According to the latest statistics, Americans drink over five gallons of the neon sports drink stuff per capita per year.
Not to be confused…