How Much Sugar Is Too Much?

sugar frown

Let’s face it. Many of us consume too much added sugar. Adults, young adults and children in the U.S. consume on average 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day, more than 2 to 3 times the recommended amount for men and women respectively. This adds up to around 60 pounds of added sugar consumed annually — that’s six, 10-pound bowling balls.

What are the major sources of added sugar?

The numbers are in. These percentages show the beverage and food categories from which we consume added sugar:

  • Desserts and sweet snacks – 19%
  • Other sources 19% 
  • Soft drinks – 16%
  • Coffee/tea – 11%
  • Candy – 9%
  • Sandwiches – 7%
  • Breakfast cereals and bars – 7%
  • Fruit drinks – 5%
  • Higher fat milk and sweetened yogurt – 4%
  • Sport/energy drinks – 2% 

How does the body react to sugar?

It all comes down to how fast sugars get absorbed. For example, your body spends more time digesting an apple than regular soda. The apple contains fiber, so the natural sugar absorbs more slowly. The added sugar in soda, however, hits your system all at once, converting to calories much more quickly. A 12-ounce can of soda contains 10 teaspoons (42 grams) of added sugar — nearly double the recommended amount a day for women and more than the total daily amount for men.   

What’s the AHA’s recommendation on added sugar?

Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day.

Women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day.

What should I look for while grocery shopping?

There’s a lot of confusing information out there. Studies show that 68% of shoppers come across conflicting nutritional data on social media and 60% doubt the choices they are making for their families.  

It’s tempting to look to alternative sugars, which often can be perceived as healthier choices than plain white sugar. Don’t be fooled. Added sugar is added sugar no matter what it is called. Check out the ingredients lists for these added sugars:

  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Turbinado sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose

Food manufacturers are now required to list the amount of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label in grams and as a percent of daily value. A recent analysis found that this labeling could potentially prevent nearly 1 million cases of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes over the next two decades. Listing the total amount of added sugars means that consumers can easily determine how much added sugar is in a food or beverage. This information helps shoppers make smart choices.

Bottom line: Read the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients list for the terms that simply mean added sugar.


Nationally Supported by

Egg Nutrition Center

Nationally Supported by
Egg Nutrition Center

Eggland's Best

Nationally Supported by
Eggland's Best