Most Americans have an unhealthy obsession with sugar. According to the American Heart Association, “American adults consume an average of 77 grams of sugar per day, more than 3 times the recommended amount for women. This adds up to around 60 pounds of added sugar annually – that’s six, 10-pound bowling balls, folks! The numbers are even worse for children. American kids consume 81 grams per day, equaling over 65 pounds of added sugar per year. Think of it this way – children are ingesting over 30 gallons of added sugars from beverages alone. That’s enough to fill a bathtub!”
Much of the problem stems from sugar being added to many processed foods, such as crackers, soups, condiments, and more. According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHHS), “Sugar is the most popular ingredient added to foods in the U.S.”
Not All Sugars are Created Equal
You might be thinking, “But wait a minute! Isn’t sugar also found in fruits and other so-called healthy foods?” And the answer is: yes, it is, but…
“Total or Natural Sugars” are found in any food containing carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. “Consuming whole foods that contain natural sugar is okay. Plant foods also have high amounts of fiber, essential minerals, and antioxidants, and dairy foods contain protein and calcium,” Harvard Medical School reports. “Since your body digests these foods slowly, the sugar in them offers a steady supply of energy to your cells. A high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.”
“Added Sugars,” on the other hand, are sugars that are added during the processing of foods to increase flavor or extend shelf life. You would expect to find sugar in cookies, cakes, and candy, but sugar is also added to foods such as soups, breads, ketchup, cured meats, etc. That is how many people end up consuming way more sugar than they realize.
According to the CDC, “Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) or sugary drinks are leading sources of added sugars in the American diet.” This includes regular soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, etc. According to NHHS, 33% of the added sugar we consume comes from soft drinks. A 12-oz can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar and 140 calories. Statista reports that in 2018, Americans drank on average 38.87 gallons of soft drinks.
How Much Sugar is Too Much?
The Institute of Medicine, which sets Recommended Dietary Allowances, has not provided a formal guideline for sugar. However, the American Heart Association recommends no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar per day for men and no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) for women.
How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Your Health?
Consuming too much sugar has been linked to several health issues.
- Weight Gain – According to WebMD, “If you drink a can of soda every day and don’t trim calories elsewhere, in three years, you’d be 15 pounds heavier.”
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Liver Disease
- Tooth Decay and Cavities
- Kidney Stones
- Poor Sleep
How Can I Lower My Sugar Intake?
Read Nutrition Facts labels to help you choose foods that are lower in added sugars. Or, you can turn to My Neat Health’s nutritionally designed meal replacement and protein supplements, such as meal replacement bars, meal replacement shakes, healthy entrees, and more to reduce your sugar intake.
We use natural sugar in extremely limited quantities, using just enough to make our products taste good. Our goal is to create genuinely delicious-tasting products that do not leave an unpleasant after-taste.