The typical U.S. diet gets more than 20 teaspoons of sugar per day and about 13 percent of total daily calories come from sugars. The food industry uses more than 45 different sweeteners, and about 80 percent of all packaged foods and beverages contain at least one type of caloric sweetener.
Thankfully, the FDA recently released guidelines to food manufacturers about how they will need to disclose added sugars in the Nutrition Facts panel in the future. That will help, but the food industry has about two years until they must fully implement the new label changes. In the meantime, here’s what you can do.
The Not-So-Sweet News About Sugar and Health
Diets rich in excess added sugars can contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. One recent study published in JAMA:Internal Medicine reported that those who consumed 17 to 21 percent of calories as added sugars had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar. Those who consumed more than 21 percent of their calories from added sugars were twice as likely to die from a cardiovascular event, compared to those who had the least amount of added sugar in their diets.
How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
Since 2009, the American Heart Association has recommended reducing consumption of added sugars to levels significantly lower than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For most women, no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons), and most men limit added sugars to no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons).
According to data released in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the major sources of added sugars haven’t changed in decades and include sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, ice cream and other dairy desserts, candy, cold cereals and bread. In fact, some 39 percent of added sugars in the diet come from sugar-sweetened beverages.