Added Sugar is Associated with More than Just Weight Gain

PJ-AR203_HEARTB_NS_20090824194939Added sugars that are found in processed foods may contain only four calories per gram, similar to protein, but when consumed in surplus, those calories can become toxic in the body. It has been reported that Americans eat an additional 355 extra calories a day from added sugar, according to the American Heart Association. In addition to potential weight gain, added sugar has been reported to decrease testosterone levels in men by 25 percent.  We know the impact too much added sugar can have on conditions like diabetes and risk of cancer. Too much added sugar can also negatively affect the cells in our body, a study in 2009 found a positive association between glucose consumption and the aging of our cells. In a 2012 study, too much sugar was linked to deficiencies in cognitive health.



It has been said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” To help prevent the many side effects from too much added sugar it is important to be aware of what you’re consuming in the added sugar department. The easiest way to do this is to read food labels and start monitoring the amount of added sugar (in grams) each day. Put yourself on an added sugar budget especially during the Holiday season. Our craving for sugar has increased 39% between 1950 and 2000, according to reports from the USDA. The average American consumes about 156 pounds of sugar each year (about three pounds of sugar each week). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends less than 10 percent of daily calories come from sugar and for the majority of people this is about 50 grams a day. Keep in mind that just one can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of sugar. WHO further suggests that “a reduction to below 5% of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits.” This should be your goal, especially if you’re trying to lose weight and finally, be aware of the following guidelines.

  • Eat no more than 2.5 grams of added sugar per 100 calories.

  • Men = Consume <150 calories (38 grams) a day of added sugar or about 9 teaspoons a day.

  • Women = Consume <100 calories (25 grams) a day of added sugar or about 6 teaspoons a day.

Suggested Reading

Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease by Robert Lustig, MD


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