How Much Sugar Do You Consume?

It's an interesting question. If you ask Americans if sugar is healthy, most would agree that it's not. However, most will admit, they have a sweet tooth and enjoy the occasional treat. So, how much sugar are Americans consuming? Let's see what the data says.

First, how much sugar can we have?

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories a day of added sugar from any source, and men consume no more than 150 calories. That's about 6 teaspoons of added sugar (25 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (37.5 grams) for men. Over the course of a year, women should consume no more than 25lbs of sugar or 41lbs of sugar for men. This includes sugar in sweetened beverages such as gator aid and sofa.

Keep in mind, when we consume sugar, insulin is released. (refer to Understanding The Importance of Insulin) which can have profound effects on the body.

How much sugar are we consuming?

Authority nutrition.com illustrates how much sugar Americans are consuming.

  • In 2008 the average intake was 76.7 grams per day, which equals 19 teaspoons or 306 calories per day.
  • That is over 60 pounds (28 kg) of added sugar per year and this data does not include fruit juices. Add the morning juice most Americans consume to the equation and we are talking about 10.5 gallons per year (3,864 grams). The juice breaks down to an additional 10.5 grams of sugar every morning.

 

What's scary about Americans consuming over 60 pounds of sugar per year is, the study is using the law of averages. According to Dr.Mercola, when you remove the Americans who don't add sugar to their foods you get a different, more alarming statistic.

  • 50 percent of Americans consumed approximately 227 grams (1/2 pound) of sugar each day around 2009—equating to 180 pounds each year!
  • An encouraging statistic from the same study showed, sugar consumption went down by 23% between the years 2000 and 2008, mainly because people drank less sugar-sweetened beverages.

 

Have we always consumed this much sugar?

According to Dr. Mercola's data in the table below:

  • The average person consumed approximately 4.9 grams each day (4 pounds of sugar each year) around 1700.
  • The average person consumed approximately 22.4 grams each day (18 pounds of sugar each year) around 1800.
  • In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 2009, the average person consumes 70 grams of fructose each day – 300 percent above the recommended amount. (Fructose is watched since fruit and juice consumption overall has been on the rise as well as the use of high fructose corn syrup)

 

Per the USDA's economic research, consumption of sugar has increased 39% from 1950-2000. While our consumption of cane and beet sugar went down from 96lbs (1950) to 65lbs (2000), our consumption of corn sweetness increased from 11lbs (1950) to 85lbs (2000). Again, this does not include our consumption of fruits which despite being natural, still contain significant amounts of sugar.

How much sugar is in our food?

Let's look at some of the foods Americans love to consume and see how much sugar is in it. I will break them down into 2 groups. Most people will agree what is considered unhealthy below, and realize these foods are high in sugar. When you look at the "healthy" foods most consider, you may be surprised as to how much sugar is present.

Unhealthy Food

  • Dairy Queen cookie dough blizzard (medium): 108 grams or 27 teaspoons of sugar
  • Coca Cola: 20oz bottle 65 grams or 15 1/4 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Snickers: 29 grams or 6+ teaspoons of sugar
  • Dairy Queen small Vanilla Cone: 25 grams or 6.25 teaspoons of sugar
  • Subway white chocolate macadamia nut cookie: 18 grams or 4.5 teaspoons of sugar

 

Healthy Foods? (Are they actually healthy with so much sugar in them?)

  • Gatorade: (lemon lime flavor) 35 grams or 8.75 grams of sugar
  • Yoplait (strawberry yogurt): 26 grams 6.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • Craisins: 26 grams or 6.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • Cliff Bar (chocolate mint): 21 grams 5.25 teaspoons of sugar
  • Home style Vinaigrette: 14 grams or 3.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • Francesco Rinaldi Pasta Sauce: 12 grams or 2.4 teaspoons of sugar
  • Nature Valley Granola Bar (sweet & salty nut): 11 grams or 2.2 teaspoons of sugar
  • Thousand Island Dressing: 4.6 grams or .99 teaspoons of sugar
  • Skippy Peanut Butter: 3 grams or .6 teaspoons of sugar

 

One thing to remember is the listing above is for each serving. This assumes you are measuring the amount of vinaigrette, pasta sauce, or peanut butter. If you are not, you can assume you are consuming additional sugar per serving.

Has all this sugar helped our health?

According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, since the early 1960s, the prevalence of obesity among adults more than doubled, increasing from 13.4 to 35.7 percent in U.S. adults age 20 and older. Is this coincidence? I personally don't this so. Let's put it this way, all this sugar consumption has not helped our health improve over the years.

What are you to do?

Look at the foods you are consuming. Look at the nutrition facts. If you are a woman consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar per day. If you are a man, consume no more than 9 teaspoons (37.5 grams) per day. While most Americans will acknowledge that unhealthy foods are full of sugar, you may not realize how much sugar is in “healthy" foods. Watch what happens to your appetite, energy, weight, body fat %, waist line, and overall health. I think you will like what you see.

 

Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

Dragondoor Publications: HKC Russian Kettlebell Certified