Sugar. It’s everywhere. You’ll not only find sugar in places you would expect—like cookies and candy—but it’s hiding in places you might not think of, like yogurt, ketchup and packaged foods that don’t even taste sweet. And those drinks that keep you going all day long? Chances are a majority of your daily sugar intake is coming from them.
The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend adults limit the amount of sugar they consume each day to 10 percent of daily calories. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that equals about 50 grams or 12 teaspoons of sugar. The World Health Organization, which also used to recommend that sugar consumption be kept to a maximum of 10 percent of daily calories, now suggests only 5 percent of calories come from added sugar each day. That equals about 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association also recommends that kids 2 to 18 years old eat no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
Many Americans don’t come close to meeting these health guidelines. In fact, the average American adult consumes about 22 teaspoons or almost 94 grams of added sugar a day. Over 70 percent of American adults get more than 10 percent of their calories from sugar, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, which also linked higher levels of sugar consumption with an increased risk of death from heart disease.
The good news is that Americans have reduced their intake of sweeteners by 15 percent since consumption peaked in 1999 at about 111 grams of sugar daily, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is due in part to a decrease in soda consumption. Soda taxes, enacted in some cities in the U.S., have helped to lower the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed, especially by lower income residents.
Why is it a good idea to reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet? Sugar contributes excess calories to your diet with no nutritional value. It may also contribute to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and tooth decay, as well as other health problems.
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