Are you eating too much sugar? Do you eat much more than six teaspoons of sugar a day? Perhaps you aren’t sure why you should give your sugar habit the boot. But a number of new recommendations suggest sugar may be among the worst foods for your body.
In March, the World Health Organization recommended adults and children reduce their daily amount of sugar to less than 10 percent of total energy intake. But they recommend that reducing to below five percent (about 25 grams or six teaspoons) a day would have added health benefits. WHO considers sugar to be sugars added to food and drinks by either the manufacturer or the consumer, and sugars that are naturally in honey, syrup and fruit juices. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars to about six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men.
The FDA also recently announced recommendations in line with WHO (the 10 percent rule), encouraging Americans to monitor and reduce their sugar intake for optimal health. Here are just a few reasons your sugar habit needs to go:
1. It causes weight gain.
Many Americans are either overweight or obese. Over one-third of all adult Americans are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Too much added sugar will pack on the pounds. A 2012 study studied the link between added sugars and body weight in adults and children and found that reducing added sugars led to a decrease in body weight.
An article by Harvard School of Public Health cites the increasing consumption of sugar sweetened drinks as a “major contributor to the obesity epidemic.” The article mentions that a typical 20-ounce soda has 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar. That’s a lot of sugar in a liquid form, and when you drink liquid sugar you just don’t feel as full as if you ate the same amount of calories, as a study found.
2. Health Problems
Excess sugar consumption has been linked to a slew of health problems, ranging from type 2 diabetes to gout. A 2010 study looked at the link between consuming sugar sweetened drinks and type 2 diabetes. People who drank one to two servings a day of sugar sweetened drinks had a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Another study found a link between consumption of sugar sweetened drinks and heart problems. The study looked at 40,000 men for 20 years and found that those who had one can of a sugar sweetened drink a day had a 20 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from one. A study of women found a similar link.
There just might be a link between having sugar sweetened drinks. A 22-year study of 80,000 women found that those who had one can a day of a sugar sweetened drink had a 75 percent higher risk of gout. A study of men found similar results.
Your children are also at risk from excess sugar consumption. A recent study found that children who reduce sugar consumption have lower blood pressure and cholesterol in just 10 days.
3. Feeling Depressed? Sugar Could Be To Blame
That daily can of soda you love so much just might not be good for your mental health. A British study found a link between the prevalence of depression and the outcome of schizophrenia. Another study found a link between excess sugar consumption and an increased risk of depression. A study on mice found that a diet high in sugar throughout the teen years can worsen depression and anxiety. In other words, sugar will bring down your mood.
Image: Michael Stern