Americans...Addicted to SUGAR!

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “Sugar is our #1 recreational drug of choice.” Research shows that our ancestors (hunters/gatherers) ate about 20 teaspoons of sugar a year. In the U.S., Americans eat over 150 pounds of sugar a year per person. The average person eats about twenty-two teaspoons of added sugar a day, which is over three times the recommended minimum per day.

Although we do sometimes add sugar to food, almost all added sugar comes from processed and commercially prepared foods. The main offenders are sweetened drinks and cereal. Other sources of added sugar are grain-based desserts like cakes and cookies, candy, and dairy desserts like ice cream. These added sugars spike your blood sugar and accelerate fat storage. Added sugar can lead to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Soft drinks are the number one source of added sugar. They leave drinkers feeling hungry despite the high calorie content. One can of soda contains enough high-fructose corn syrup equal to approximately 10 teaspoons of table sugar. If you drink one can of soda per day and do not create a calorie deficit elsewhere, you are on target to gain at least 15 pounds over the next three years.

Cereal is the number two source of added sugar. Cereal, breakfast bars, and breakfast pastries contain large amounts of added sugar. Food manufacturers have come up with deceptive ways to mask having “sugar” as the first and main ingredient on the food list. Several forms of sugar are commonly added to foods and listed separately on the label. So, the cereal may contain more sugar than anything else, although “sugar” is not listed as the first ingredient. Be SMART! Carefully, check food labels for all sources of added sugar.

Our bodies do not benefit from added sugar, so we have to become sugar detectives. Many products besides sodas and cereal contain sugar as well...breads, canned goods, frozen meals, packaged meals, etc. Food manufacturers must list the total amount of sugar per serving. However, manufacturers do not have to distinguish if the sugar is natural or added. Natural sugars occur in products like fruit and milk. Be aware and take the time to read the ingredient label of the foods you are going to purchase. Labels can be confusing. Remember, that ingredients are listed in descending order. So, if sugar is the first or second ingredient, that means sugar is a main ingredient. Familiarize yourself with the most common used names of sugar below.


  • Barley malt                    Beet sugar                             Blackstrap molasses   
  • Brown sugar                  Cane sugar                            Cane juice crystals      
  • Caramel                         Carob syrup                           Corn sweeteners         
  • Corn syrup                     Confectioner's sugar             Date sugar                            
  • Dextrin                           Dextrose                                 Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose                         Fruit juice concentrate          Galactose                     
  • Glucose                          High-fructose corn syrup       Honey                                            
  • Lactose                          Malt syrup                               Maltodextrin                
  • Maltose                          Maple syrup                            Molasses                      
  • Raw sugar                      Rice syrup                               Sucrose                              
  • Table sugar                    Turbinado sugar

In order to heal our bodies and live healthier lives, we need to reduce the amount of added sugars consumed daily. So be SMART when you shop and look for hidden added sugars.


Janet Steward