To Your Health: Addicted to sugar? You’re not alone

sodaAmericans have a sweet tooth.

Seven out of 10 us are getting more calories than we should from sugars added to processed foods and drinks, according to a new study.

Researchers also linked consuming too much sugar with a higher risk of death from heart disease.

The study is the latest highlighting the consequences of America’s sugar addiction. Too much sugar in your diet can also lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and other health concerns.

Now, you might think the solution to this problem is simple: Americans should steer clear of sweets, right?

That wouldn’t hurt, but the new study also found that candy and cakes weren’t the greatest source of added sugar in American diets.

What was? Sugary drinks.

Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened coffee drinks, sweetened teas. You can see how all this adds up.

In fact, sugar-sweetened beverages account for 37 percent of added sugar in American diets, the researchers found. Grain-based desserts (cakes, cookies, donuts) came in at a distant second (13.7 percent), followed by fruit drinks (8.9 percent), dairy desserts (6 percent) and candy (5.8 percent).

Experts have been trying to raise awareness about the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages for years.

Last year, the Hawaii Health Department launched a “Rethink your Drink” campaign aimed at getting teens to switch to healthier beverages. The department said nearly half of Hawaii teens drink sugary drinks daily, which amount to about 1,300 additional calories each week.

No more than 10 percent of your daily caloric intake should be from added sugars. The American Heart Association suggests limiting added sugar intake to 100 calories (or 25 grams) a day for women and 150 calories (37.5 grams) for men.

Easier said than done, right? Added sugars are everywhere.

But there are some things you can do to cut your sugar intake:

>> Cut down slowly. It’s tough to give up something, especially something that you crave. If you have a favorite sports drink or energy drink, try cutting the sugar intake by “watering it down” with club soda or spritzer.

>> Remove temptations and have healthier options in sight. Get rid of the sugary soda in your cupboard and buy club soda instead. Put a lemon in your club soda for a refreshing drink.

>> Give yourself a sugar “quota” and resolve not to waste it on a soda you down in two seconds. Try reducing your quota each month or week. Share your goal with your friends and family, and encourage them to participate.

>> Be vigilant. Added sugars are hidden in lots of foods, so do some homework and figure out how much sugar you’re getting every day. Some examples of savory foods with added sugar include pasta sauce, baked beans and luncheon meats.

>> Know what to look for. Added sugars and naturally occurring sugars are not created equal – the added stuff is what you should be most worried about. But nutrition labels only tell you how much sugar is in your food, not how much of the sugar is added. So what to do?

Read the ingredients, and look for sugar or its aliases. Here are some other terms for added sugar: corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, galactose, glucose, honey, hydrogenated starch, invert sugar maltose, lactose, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, polyols, sucrose, and sorbitol.

One comment

  • I read this somewhere a long while ago. Probably in the book “Sugar Blues”: When sugar first arrived in Europe in 1100, a little pinch of it was considered a strong dose for an adult. It wasn’t widely used until 1600.

    The average American’s present sugar consumption might even be considered enough for all of Europe back then! Is it any wonder modern Americans are afflicted with so many sugar-related health problems?


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