In 1822, the average American consumed 9 grams of sugar a day – about the amount in one of today’s 12-ounce sodas. Today, the average Joe takes in 153 grams daily. That’s roughly 36 teaspoons!
To put this into perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that men limit sugar consumption to 9 teaspoons a day and women 6. (Even that seems like a lot.) And a report released in 2006 by the World Health Organization (WHO) urges people to limit their daily consumption of added sugars to less than 10 percent of their total energy intake. So if I’m eating an average 2000 calories a day, I should keep my sugar consumption under 12 teaspoons or about 48 grams. (I found the most common conversion factor to be 4.2 grams per teaspoon, but if you want to keep the math simple, just divide grams by 4.)
I looked these numbers up because I never have before, and in my pursuit to eat better, I’ve realized how much processed food I and my family eat. So listen up family: A Carnation Instant Breakfast drink has 19 sugar grams (4.75 teaspoons). One Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Granola Bar has 13 grams (3.25 teaspoons). Apple Jacks? 13.7 grams (3.4 teaspoons). One A&W Cream Soda? 46.5 grams (11.6 teaspoons).
Sugar consumption isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing what to eat, but it helps to know the numbers, particularly during the holidays. We all know refined sugar has no nutritional value and contributes to all sorts of hideous conditions, like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and headaches. Oh, and for the teenagers out there, it also causes acne!
How can you monitor and reduce your sugar consumption?
- Do the math. Read the labels on the food you eat in a day. Sum up those sugar grams, divide by 4, and see how many teaspoons you’ve put in your piehole. The People’s Chemist created a “Death By Sugar Calculator” for those who want a visual.
- Consider whether your high sugar foods are worth it. Can you switch to another brand with less sugar? Can you make something similar, but healthier, (like granola bars) at home?
- Make healthier holiday treats this year to eat at home and share with friends. Spread some real holiday cheer.
How much sugar do you consume in a day?
Image Credit: rockindave1 via flickr/CC