If you’re thinking, “I don’t eat much sugar,” think again. Even if you try to eat healthy but you’re eating food from some kind of a container, you’d probably be surprised at how much sugar you actually consume.
Mostly we think of sugar in terms of sweets: baked goods, candy, and by now, I think most of us are aware of how much sugar is in soda and fruit juice. But did you know that manufacturers add sugar to about 75% of all packaged foods sold in supermarkets? And that it’s added to things like pasta sauce, bread and my favorite, frozen fruit. This from the U. S. Department of Agriculture (emphasis is mine):
Sugar—including sucrose, corn sweeteners, honey, maple syrup, and molasses—is ubiquitous and often hidden. In a sense, sugar is the number one food additive. It turns up in some unlikely places, such as pizza, bread, hot dogs, boxed mixed rice, soup, crackers, spaghetti sauce, lunch meat, canned vegetables, fruit drinks, flavored yogurt, ketchup, salad dressing, mayonnaise, and some peanut butter (author note: a LOT of peanut butter. Find a popular brand that doesn’t add sugar and other stuff!). Carbonated sodas provided more than a fifth (22 percent) of the refined and added sugars in the 2000 American food supply, compared with 16 percent in 1970.
– USDA Report “Profiling Food Consumption in America”
According to this same report, in 1999, Americans hit an all-time high of added sugar consumption reaching a whopping 155 lbs. per person that year (see image-talk about a sugar high!). Compare that with about 109 lbs. per person in the 1950’s of which zero (that’s none) came from high fructose corn syrup! Actually cane and beet sugar consumption were higher in the 1950’s than now (96 lbs. compared with 66 lbs.) so most of the sugar consumption back in the day came from garden variety table sugar, not from added sweeteners. No surprise there.
So in 2000, the average American consumed about 32 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Compare that with the USDA recommendation of 10 teaspoons a day and the current American Heart Association guidelines of 9 teaspoons for men, 6 teaspoons for women, and 3-6 teaspoons for children per day and you’ll see the problem.
And, while this is controversial, I maintain that low and non-fat versions of foods are actually making us fatter, by adding sugar to replace the fat removed so foods still taste “good.” Yes, oils like saturated and trans-fat versions aren’t good for you, but good oils and those naturally occurring (yes, there’s that phrase again) in nuts and avocados and olives, etc., are really necessary for your body to function.
We eat out more, we eat processed and fast food more, and actually our overall food expenditures haven’t gone up a lot over the years, but we eat more food. So that means food is becoming less expensive and that’s because we’re eating more cheap, processed food which translates into eating more of everything that has limited to no nutritional value including not just added sugars, but saturated and trans-fats and oils and refined grains. It’s the franken diet!
Check out those coupons you clip for the grocery store. What kind of food is being discounted? Fresh fruits and vegetables? Whole grains? Organics? Not.
Think about that. Don’t believe me, start reading labels. You’ll be amazed.
Next time: Sugar, Not the Sweetie You Think!