A few decades ago, physicians and dieticians warned us to avoid fat and cholesterol. Food manufacturers dramatically increased sugar content to compensate for the lack of flavor that resulted from fat reduction in food. Next came the carbohydrate avoidance craze in the early 2000s. Now health experts are pointing to sugar overload as the root of our nation’s health crisis. The problem is sugar is added to nearly every manufactured food product, from yogurt to BBQ sauce, and in astonishing amounts.
Here’s a snapshot of sugar’s impact on us:
From 1977 to 2010, added sugar consumption soared 30 percent as obesity rates more than doubled over that time span. Today, one of three U.S. adults has prediabetes as the rate of adults with full-blown Type 2 diabetes has increased four-fold since 1980.
The average American consumes 22 teaspoons (88 grams) of added sugar every day; the average child, 32 teaspoons (128 grams). The World Health Organization recommends a much lower maximum daily intake of 6 teaspoons for women, 9 for men (24 grams and 36 grams respectively). It’s added sugars that are of greatest concern. Sugar found naturally in foods such as fruit and veggies are not harmful. For many, sugar is an addictive substance that shows up in food in many forms (fructose and corn syrup, for example) and contributes to myriad health maladies such as diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, obesity, dementia, cancer and even wrinkles.
These common food choices highlight out-of-control sugar content:
- Starbucks caramel frappuccino blended coffee,16 oz: 64 grams sugar
- Cliff Bar, crunchy peanut butter; 20 gm sugar
- Yoplait Original Yogurt – 6 oz = 26 gms sugar
- KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce – 1 Tbsp = 18 gms sugar
- Dunkin Donuts toasted coconut cake donut; 27 g sugar
For another peek at the sugar content in commercial candy bars, soft drinks and cereals, look here:
Good news is the improved nutrition facts label that will debut in July 2018 will help consumers make more informed food choices. Amongst other changes, added sugars will be called-out from naturally occurring sugar. The FDA’s guideline is to aim for less than ten percent of total daily calories from added sugars.
One of the most important steps we can take for our health is to limit our intake of added sugar. The best way to do this is to avoid most processed foods. A simple axiom to follow when making food choices:
If it’s manufactured IN a plant, minimize it.
If it’s grown BY a plant, maximize it in your diet.
And consider adopting these takeaway suggestions:
- Read food labels, paying particular attention to serving size and sugar content
- Strive for staying below the max daily guidelines of 6-9 teaspoons of added sugar
- For sweetness, nutrients and fiber, turn to nature’s candy: Fruit
- Watch Fed Up, a documentary by Katie Couric: http://amzn.to/2qkdg4M
To your good health!
Certified Weight Loss Coach & Fitness Trainer
WHS Wellness Center
PS If you’re struggling to improve your health and maintain a healthy weight, consider partnering with a certified weight loss/health coach for accountability and one-on-one support. Get in touch to arrange your 15-minute no-obligation discovery conversation to find out if coaching is the missing piece in your weight loss puzzle. 314-914-7846 or Gayle@whs-stl.com.