The epitome of a love-hate relationship. We LOVE the taste but HATE the effects. Did you know that on average, American adults eat 21 teaspoons of sugar every day? This equates to about 137 pounds a year. No wonder 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese.
What are the most common culprits? Soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, and candy are some, but sugar is found in many other foods, such as cakes and cookies, fast food and ice cream, drink mixers, canned foods and sauces, and cereals and breads. One teaspoon of sugar is 4.2 grams. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at some popular drinks (teaspoon amounts are rounded):
|Size||Product||Sugar (grams)||Sugar (tsps)|
|12 oz||Barq's Root Beer||45||11|
|12 oz||Mountain Dew||46||11|
|12 oz||Sierra Mist||39||9|
|16 oz||AMP Energy||58||14|
|16 oz||SoBe Energy||66||16|
|15.2 oz||Ocean Spray Apple Juice||48||11|
|12 oz||Tropicana Orangeade||41||10|
If this isn’t depressing enough, labeling is deceptive so being informed has become even more important. If a product boasts of being “sugar free,” it isn’t necessarily so. By law, it can have up to ½ gram of sugar. This may not seem like a lot, but it all adds up, and quickly. Similarly, sugar is easily hidden in the list of ingredients. I thought of 19, and I’m sure I didn’t include all of them. Do these look familiar?
- brown sugar
- cane sugar
- corn syrup
- maple syrup
- fruit juice concentrate
- high fructose corn syrup
Serving size is also important. For instance, 8 ounces of Powerade has 14 grams of sugar but many bottles that are bought are 32 ounces. These have 56 grams of sugar (13 teaspoons).
The American Heart Association recommends that most women have no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) of added sugar a day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons (150 calories). These guidelines do not apply to naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruit, vegetables, or dairy products.
Sugar is used by the body but not in quantities that are more than is needed. It is broken down into the simple sugar, glucose, to be used as energy. Any unused glucose is converted into glycogen and stored in the muscles and liver. If your body has enough stored glycogen, this excess turns to fat and is only drawn upon if all of the stored glycogen is used up. Over time, this can obviously cause you to gain weight. It is well documented that obesity can contribute to diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and tooth decay. Some studies have shown that too much sugar causes wrinkles which give you the look of premature aging.
So what should you do? Make smart choices. If your goal is to lose weight or improve your health, control your sugar intake by cutting back on the soda, and the prepackaged cookies and cakes. Reducing sugar often results in lowering your calories too. Do this for yourself and those around you will benefit too. Good habits as kids breed good habits as adults. How much sugar are your kids eating?