How much sugar is too much sugar?
According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, the average American consumed 114 grams or 29.8 teaspoons of sugar per day in 2005. That is nearly 96 pounds per year and, according to the American Heart Association, far exceeds the amount needed to meet our nutritional requirements and maintain a healthy weight. Examples of the AHA's suggested guidelines, which consider physical activity, gender and age include:
- Moderately active female age 51-55: 20 grams (5 teaspoons) per day
- Sedentary female age 71-75: 12 grams (3 teaspoons) per day
- Active male age 21-25: 72 grams (18 teaspoons) per day
- Sedentary male age 46-50: 36 grams (9 teaspoons) per day
Since grams are an uncommon measure, consider that 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon = 1 cube.
Sugar appears in different forms on food labels, including raw, brown, granulated, powdered, tubinado, or mannitol sugar, fructose, glucose/dextrose, lactose, maltose, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, invert sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey or sucrose (table sugar).
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Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of sugar (whether in the forms of high fructose corn syrup or sucrose) in the American diet and are a leading contributor to obesity. Compounding the problem is the fact that most soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened milk, energy drinks, sports drinks and sweetened coffee and tea products provide almost no nutrients.