Americans consume too much sugar, and it’s killing us! A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that more than 70 percent of U.S. adults get more than the recommended amount of their daily calories from added sugars. Even more shocking is the direct link to higher levels of sugar consumption and higher incidents of death due to cardiovascular disease! Added sugar in our diet is literally killing us!
We are not talking about sugars that naturally occur in foods, like the sugar in fruit. The study looks specifically at those sugars added to processed and prepared foods, and those found in sugar-sweetened beverages. There have been several recent attempts to limit the amount of sugar in foods and sodas, but they have met with mixed success. We believe that we should take an education approach rather than try to “force” people to reduce their sugar intake through legislation. So let’s start by seeing what we can learn from this study.
JAMA found that, in general, the people who consumed more added sugars also had more fat and cholesterol in their diets and they ate less lean meat, vegetables and whole grains too. So, this may suggest a general lack of nutrition awareness, and not just sugar intake, may be the cause of the higher risks.
Also, JAMA found that the largest contributor to added sugars in our diets (by far) is sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and energy drinks. These accounted for a whopping 37 percent of all added sugars! Grain-based desserts like cookies and cakes were a distant second at 14 percent. This suggests that we can have the biggest impact on reducing added sugar by focusing on reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.
The results of this study seem to support the logic of implementing additional taxes on sodas and other sugary beverages, but these efforts have fallen flat. It also seems to support efforts to remove sugar from the Food and Drug Administration’s list of ingredients that are “generally recognized as safe.” Those efforts have failed too.
So, what can we do to reverse this unhealthy trend? First, we can pay attention to what we and our family eats and drinks. Help your family select healthy alternatives to soda. Choose iced tea or water when you can. Also, be proactive and read the Nutrition Facts and Ingredients before you buy products. Try to select items that have less added sugar, less fat and lower sodium levels. Read the menu before you make selections in restaurants. All restaurants are required to provide you with nutrition information for their foods if you ask.
By taking responsibility for what you and your family eat, and making healthier choices each day, you can make a huge difference in the health of those you love. Check out our Eat Great, Live Well Program for learn how you can eat healthier without giving up the foods you love.
Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?