How much sugar can I eat?
The recommendation for added sugar is to eat or drink no more than 100 grams per day for a woman and 150 grams per day for a male. This recommendation is endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA) in a scientific statement published in the journal Circulation in 2009. As an example, a 12 ounce can of soda or pop contains about 130 calories.
Added sugar is defined as sugars that are not naturally occurring or intrinsic. This refers to sugars and syrups added to foods during processing or preparation and sugars and syrups added at the table.
How has sugar intake changed?
From 2001 to 2004, the daily amount of added sugar eaten by the average American was 355 calories per day. From 1970 to 2005, the amount of sugars available to eat increased by 76 calories per day (19% increase) from 400 to 476 calories per day. The actual intake of sugar has been estimated to have increased from 235 cal per day per person in 1977 and 1978 to 318 calories per person per day in 2004 and 2005.
From 2001 to 2004, 14 to 18 year old year old children had the highest intake of added sugar at 549 calories per day. Most of these calories come from soft drinks, fruit drinks, desserts, sugars, jellies, candy and ready-to-eat cereals. The intake of caloric soft drinks increased 70% from 1970 to 2000.
Why is sugar bad?
All of this added sugar is not good for our weight or our heart. Increased sugar has been shown to raise blood pressure, blood triglycerides (one of the bad cholesterols) and decrease our HDL (the “good” cholesterol). This excess sugar intake also leads to less eating of nutritious food therefore decreasing the levels of several important vitamins including calcium, vitamin A, iron and zinc.
Another interesting study showed that when the size of a sugary cola increased from 12 ounces to 18 ounces, the calories also eaten with it as food increased by 10% in women and 26% in men. These extra 50 calories can lead to 5 lbs of weight gain in a year!