Seven out of ten Americans consume at least that much sugar, if not more. The more you consume, the higher your chance of death becomes. Those with the highest consumption, more than 25% of calories from sugar, have a nearly 300% greater risk of cardiovascular death than those consuming less than 10% of calories from added sugar.
On February 3 an analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys data was published online in JAMA Internal Medicine. The analysis showed “that people in the study who consumed 17%-21% of their daily calories from sugar – the second-highest category of sugar consumption – showed a nearly 40% higher risk of cardiovascular disease death than did those who consumed less than 10% of their daily calories from sugar. People in the highest category of sugar consumption, who consumed 21% or more of daily calories from sugar, doubled their risk of cardiovascular disease death.”
Unfortunately, of the participants in the study, 72% consumed more than 10% or more of their daily calories in the form of sugar. One-tenth of the population consumed 25% or more.
These “added sugars” have been defined as all sugars used in processed or prepared foods such as sugar-sweetened drinks, grain-based desserts, dairy desserts, candy, processed cereals, and yeast breads. Natural sugars present in fruit are not a risk factor.
It is not yet known how sugar raises cardiovascular disease mortality however; there are several biologically plausible pathways. For instance, according to the study, sugar is known to raise blood pressure, increase hepatic fat, raise triglyceride levels, adversely affect cholesterol profiles, and increase circulating inflammatory markers.
According to the Los Angeles Times “Science Now” blog, the World Health Organization “adds that people would get additional benefits if they can keep their sugar consumption below 5% of daily calories.” In addition, “dropping sugar intake to that [5%] level will combat obesity and cavities” (Associated Press).
It does not help that sugar is added to a wide variety of foods. Even foods such as honey, syrups and fruit juices contain added sugars. In order for most Americans to drop their sugar intake to less than 10% of their total calories, approximately 2/3 of their added sugars would need to be eliminated. Sugary beverages and grain-based desserts can take much of the blame for sugar consumption, although beverages often account for three times more sugar in a person’s diet than desserts.
So, what can you do?
Take action. Look at the Nutrition Facts label. “Sugars” is reported in grams under “total carbohydrate” about half way down on labels. CBS News website reports, “The Food and Drug Administration and the White House hope to make Americans more knowledgeable about how much added sugar they are taking in by updating the Nutrition Facts Labels to include total and added sugars.”
The American Heart Association suggests total calories from sugar should be less than 100 a day for women and less than 150 a day for men.
A person consuming 1500 calories would want to keep total intake less than 38 grams daily. Start early in the day with your breakfast and take action to better your health now.
Medical Metabolic Specialists, located in Fort Collins, Colorado, is dedicated to using the latest scientific techniques to create a comprehensive, individualized. lifelong weight management program to improve your overall health.