Simply put, sugar is one of the least healthy food items you can possibly consume, and it’s taking it’s toll on the health of thousands of Americans. While it’s not the only contributing factor, sugar intake is partly responsible for 29.1 million diagnosed and undiagnosed cases of diabetes in the U.S. That’s 9.3 percent of the entire population. Also, sugar intake can be partly blamed for the whopping 78.6 million people who are considered obese in America. It’s commonly accepted that sugar intake can be somewhat responsible for oral problems as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 50 percent of children aged 12 to 15 have experienced tooth decay. These stats make the U.S. look bad, but similar health trends are occurring all around the world. Now, the World Health Organization has called on governments worldwide to do whatever they can to reduce sugar intake levels.
Reducing Daily Sugar Intake To Less Than 10 Percent
According to a press release published this week by the WHO, cutting daily sugar intake down to 10 percent of a person’s total energy intake will go a long way toward reducing obesity, tooth decay and other health risks. They also suggest going as low as five percent, or six teaspoons, daily to get the most health benefit. The sugars addressed in the announcement include glucose, fructose, sucrose and table sugar. These sugars are often found in honey, syrup and fruit juice, as well as many different processed foods. The sugars found in fresh vegetables and fruits are not included in the types of sugars that need to be avoided.
The WHO points to several studies that show a relationship between sugar intake and body weight. Children are especially at risk when it comes to the consumption of sugary drinks. It’s been proven that sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda can necessitate a ton of exercise to counteract the negative health effects – more exercise than many American children are likely getting.
The Problem of Hidden Sugars
Cutting daily sugar intake down to 10 percent might seem like a fairly easy thing to do, but it’s made much more difficult by the fact that sugar is added to so much of the food that we eat. The WHO points out that one tablespoon of ketchup, a food that might not typically be associated with sugar, can contain around 10 teaspoons of added sugar. As Time points out, hidden sugars can add up far more quickly than one would expect. For example, an snack consisting of a doughnut and a vanilla latte can account for 201 sugar calories, putting a person just over the 10 percent limit assuming they’re eating a 2,000-calorie diet. In order to stay under the limit, a person would have to eat no more sugar throughout the entire day – a highly unlikely scenario.
Sugar Intake: The Bottom Line
Sugar is everywhere in America. It’s in our bread, salad dressings, and many of the drinks we consume every day. In order to avoid hidden sugars and get down to the 10 percent sugar intake level suggested by the WHO, it will take some seriously dedicated label-reading and calorie counting every single day. For those that cannot be that diligent, it’s best to simply cut out the foods you eat that contain the most sugar: sweetened drinks, desert items and other processed food. If you need help, check out some strategies for curbing your soda consumption.