Story at a glance
- Sugar goes by at least 61 different names on ingredients lists, and is added to 74 percent of all packaged food sold in grocery stores.
- The average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day, more than double the recommended amount.
- Sugar has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer.
Sugar is everywhere in the American diet, sometimes even hiding in “healthy” foods like yogurt. Nearly three quarters of packaged food sold in supermarkets is laced with sugar, high fructose corn syrup or one of the sweet stuff’s many other disguises.
Added sugars are sweeteners added during food production or preparation that go by many names — researchers found at least 61 — including sucrose, glucose, dextrose and dehydrated cane juice.
The presence of these saccharine crystals, syrups and powders in every crevice of the American diet adds up. The average adult in the U.S. consumes 17 teaspoons (71 grams) of added sugar every single day — that works out to 57 pounds of sugar a year.
In case there was any doubt, that’s more sugar than doctors recommend. Women shouldn’t exceed 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and men should stay below 9 teaspoons, according to the American Heart Association.
Sugar has been linked to heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, obesity and cancer. These dangers were for a time obfuscated by a string of findings related to the health risks of cholesterol and saturated fat. But much of this research was directed and paid for by the sugar industry itself, as part of a decades-long campaign to suppress findings that might call attention to the health risks of America’s sugar-laden diet.