Sugar and You: What You Are Really Consuming

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The United States has the highest obesity rate in the world; about 72.5 million American adults are classified as obese. The epidemic is caused by over consumption and not enough exercise and is becoming a serious issue, with some of the leading causes of death in the US being a direct result of obesity (i.e. heart disease, stroke, and diabetes). Because of this, Americans are becoming more conscious of what and how much they are consuming. Calories and sugar are two important factors to consider when monitoring food intake. Let’s take a look at how much Americans are consuming as opposed to how much they should be consuming.

The recommended caloric intake for males that are moderately active is 2,000 to 2,400 per day and 1,800 to 2,200 for women. But with the escalating obesity rates, it is clear that Americans are consuming well over this amount. It is estimated that the average American will take in about 2,700 calories per day. Looking at this statistic, it’s no wonder the US is rapidly putting on the pounds.  By consuming an extra 500 calories per day, a person will gain a pound in just one week!

Sugar in DrinksSo what is it that Americans are eating that is so caloric? The main offender: sugar.  Added sugar (i.e. high fructose corn syrup or sucrose) is the worst ingredient in the modern diet and is found in a lot of food.  Processed food and sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks and energy drinks, are major culprits of added sugar in our diets. Sugar is empty calories, containing no vitamins or minerals and is extremely bad for our health. When we consume fructose, it goes to our liver where it will turn to fat if glycogen levels are high (as a result of being inactive and not exercising), causing deposition of fat.

The maximum amount of added sugars that one should consume per day is 150 calories (37.5 grams) for men and 100 calories (25 grams) for women. However, the average intake is about 300 calories (76.7 grams) per day. Data from 2008 showed Americans were consuming 60 pounds of added sugar per year! The average American’s sugar consumption is obviously too high; eating too much sugar has been linked to weight gain which can lead to obesity.

Monitoring your calorie and sugar intake is a great way to avoid weight gain.  If you enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and stay active, you can maintain a happy, healthy weight and lifestyle!