Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

April 10, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, How much sugar should a healthy person eat (or drink) in a day? pic of a food nutrition labelThe nutritional labels on foods generally tell not only the quantity of each nutrient, but also the percentage of the recommended daily amount. The exception is sugar. The label tells how many grams, but not how much that is toward a daily amount. 

A: Your question spotlights one of the biggest problems in Americans’ eating habits. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that most people should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of “free sugars” (any kind of sugar added into a food or beverage product) per day. However, that amount is found in just one cup of apple juice or a small fruit yogurt!

The Globalist Quiz in our local newspaper recently reported, “In the United States, almost three-quarters of the population consumes more than the recommended amount [of sugar] per day. (The U.S. average is 22 teaspoons per day, close to four times higher than the WHO recommendation.)”

That has alarming consequences for health in this nation, since excess sugar can lead to both obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Some researchers believe that sugar can be “chemically addictive,” with many of the problems associated with other types of addiction.

Reading nutritional labeling on food is a good practice. What can make it confusing, when reading ingredients, is that terms such as “corn syrup” and “fruit juice concentrates” may not be obvious as names for sugar additives.

The good news is that more and more consumers are choosing healthier foods. Major global food processing manufacturers are being impacted. The article noted that “companies such as Kraft Heinz and Coca-Cola are experiencing continued decline in sales. Coca-Cola’s soft drink sales reached a 31-year low in 2017.” Perhaps this will persuade those large companies to reduce sugar additives? Meanwhile, consuming fewer processed foods seems to be the healthiest option.