It’s fine to consume some foods and beverages that contain added sugars, but Americans tend to ingest way more than they should. For both children and adults, sugary snacks and drinks have become staples in our daily lives. This can have a negative impact on our overall health, making us feel sluggish and increasing the likelihood of developing serious health conditions.
Recommended Sugar Intake vs Our Reality
The American Heart Association recommends that each day, men should consume no more than 38 grams (9 teaspoons) of added sugar and women should consume no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar. For children, the amount varies based on their age and eating habits, but the range falls between 12 and 25 grams (3–6 teaspoons) per day.
The World Health Organization recommends similar guidelines, stating that the ideal amount of sugar for a person’s diet is 5% of their daily caloric intake. No more than 10% of an adult’s calories should come from sugar. For a person who consumes 2,000 calories per day, 25 grams of sugar would be 5% of their caloric intake.
In reality, most Americans consume more than twice the recommended amount of sugar each day. The average U.S. citizen consumes over 71 grams of sugar daily, which is approximately 17 teaspoons. Teens and children are especially more likely to ingest abnormally large amounts of sugar, as 16% of their caloric intake comes from added sugars alone. It’s not hard to exceed the daily recommended amount when one 12-ounce can of soda usually contains upwards of 46 grams of sugar.
It’s also worth mentioning that added sugars aren’t the only culprit. We should also be watching how much sugar we consume in the form of fruit, honey and natural syrups, as these sugars contribute to our overall sugar intake.
How Sugar Affects Our Health
Consuming too much sugar can contribute to the development of serious conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and tooth decay. Additionally, it can impact our energy levels and sleep quality. Because we tend to eat more sugar when we feel sluggish and drowsy, it becomes a never-ending cycle.
Improving Your Diet
Cutting down on sugar can be difficult because of cravings and convenience, but the health benefits are worth the sacrifice. People who minimize their sugar intake usually report having more energy, losing weight, and seeing clearer skin.
Learn to read labels and track your sugar intake daily. This can help you stay accountable for what you’re eating. Remember that lifestyle changes happen gradually, and there will be days you don’t meet your goals. Each step you take toward a better diet is a step in the right direction, so don’t let one setback get you down!