Americans Still Consume Too Much Sugar Despite Improving Trends
May 2, 2013

Americans Still Consume Too Much Sugar Despite Improving Trends

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

While the trends appear to be improving over time, Americans still consume too much sugar, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Scientists at the CDC found that 13 percent of all calories consumed by American adults come from sugar. However, that figure represents an improving trend as 18 percent of total calories came from sugar in 1999-2000 and 14.6 percent of total calories came from sugar in 2007-2008.

The report, which was broken down by sex, race, and income level, found that men eat about 335 calories a day from added sugars; women average 239 calories. The CDC considered added sugars to be those in processed and prepared foods, but not sugar added in home kitchens.

"These results may underestimate the actual sugar intake because people may add sugar to cereal in the morning and to beverages such as coffee and tea," lead author R. Bethene Ervin, a nutritional epidemiologist with the CDC, told USA Today's Nanci Hellmich.

These findings are much higher than the amount recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). That organization recommends men intake 150 calories a day or less from added sugars; for women, the recommended limit is 100 calories a day.

"Most of us don't have room in our diets for this many calories from added sugars," said Rachel Johnson, a spokeswoman for the AHA and a nutrition professor at the University of Vermont (UVM). "There is a small glimmer of hope that added sugar consumption is declining modestly due to the reduction in full-calorie soft drinks, but the amount people are consuming is still substantially higher than it should be."

The youngest adults, those in their 20s and 30s, tended to consume the most added sugar with levels falling steadily as age increased, the study found. While men between 20 and 39 averaged 397 calories of added sugar per day, men in the over-60 set consumed an average of 224 calories. For women, the story was similar as ladies in the youngest group consumed an average of 275 added-sugar calories per day and those 60 and older took in an average of 182.

A breakdown of statistics by ethnicity found that African-Americans got more of their calories from added sugars than whites or Mexican-Americans.

The researchers also found that those in the lowest income bracket received most of their calories from added sugars. For example, women in the lowest income category got just over 15 percent of their calories from sugar, while ladies in the middle bracket were at just over 13 percent. Women with the highest incomes averaged just over 11 percent. The men reported similar figures by income.

While many of these results may look familiar, the CDC scientists did find some unique results surrounding the sugar intake for children and teens. They noted the percentage of calories from added sugars was comparable for black and white children, yet lower for Mexican-American children. Also, children and teens of all income levels averaged the same ratio of daily calories from added sugars.