Health Team

Sugar is seductive for Americans

Posted October 12, 2009

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— America's sweet tooth is a little too sensitive.

The average American consumes 22 teaspoons a day – about three times the recommended limit.

fruit juice bottle Reading labels can curb sweet tooth

Rex Healthcare registered dietitian Natalie Newell said cutting back on sugar is the first thing she coaches her clients to do.

Many people don't read food labels and don't realize how much sugar they're eating, she said.

"It is important to look at where your sugar is coming from. Is it processed, or is it naturally occurring sugar like milk products that have lactose or fructose that's found in fruit?" Newell said.

Follow these limits:

  • Women should get only 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. That's about 100 calories.
  • Men should get only 9 teaspoons of sugar a day.

It's easy to go overboard, especially when you're drinking your calories.

A 12-ounce soda has about 8 teaspoons of sugar. Gatorade has less, but even it can quickly push you over the limit.

"Really, someone doesn't need Gatorade unless they're exercising more than 60 to 90 minutes. Water is definitely appropriate," Newell said.

If you must drink juice, look for ones that say "no sugar added." Then, you're getting only naturally occurring sugar from the fruit.

Dairy products have natural sugar, but some yogurts have added sugary fruit jams. Get the plain kind, instead, and add fruit such as blueberries or strawberries.

Use the same criteria for picking out cereal: Avoid the sugary kinds, and add your own fruit.

Newell warned consumers not to fall for healthy claims on the front of packaging. Read the label to help rein in your sweet tooth.

Look at the carbohydrate content. If sugar is more than half of the total carbohydrates, put the product back on the shelf.


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  • WXYZ Oct 13, 2009

    Actually, "sugar", which is refined and concentrated (i.e. that white, granular stuff you buy by the bag), has no vitamins, minerals, fat, fiber, protein or other essential nutrients, and is considered by dietitians as "empty carbohydrate calories". Diabetics should carefully count calories and should not consume anything which contains sugar. Sugar is habit forming and some say addictive, and can lead to poor nutrition or malnutrition, obesity, energy swings. Sugar addicts are often also addicted to nicotene and caffiene and often eat little else.

  • CestLaVie Oct 13, 2009

    The other HUGE culprit in sugar consumption today is HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, a completely processed food product.

    This stuff is deadly AND it's in EVERYTHING.

  • Schpartacus Oct 13, 2009

    This is a pretty good article but they need to do more to explain WHY too much sugar is bad (and it's not just weight gain).

    Dealing with more sugar in one's diet is as much "male privilege" as requiring a higher body fat percentage is "female privilege."

  • iamyeary Oct 13, 2009

    "Men can have more sugar per day than women"...hmmm. We can add that summary to the "male privilege checklist". A college student in a UNC Women's Studies class has compiled a large list of these privileges on her blog. I had to laugh when I saw this article on sugar. She may want to add it to her list.