Sugar Content

How sugar content intake increases obesity and diabetes risk

Major journals and scientific publications have for a long time understood the link between our daily sugar intake and the rise in the rates of obese individuals around the world, and especially in developed countries, such as the United States [1]. Sugar intake has been on the rise even among those of us that are not aware of what food products have more sugar than others. The weight gain that results from a high sugar intake is due the human body's natural tendency to store excess sugar in the form of fat. It is this weight gain that is one of the major causes of Type 2 diabetes. The food industries, and sweet beverage sub-industries in particular, have spent billions of dollars to market these foods and drinks. A good part of these marketing funds target kids under 17, with the understanding that humans tend to develop their dietary preferences early in life, and are hence likely to remain lifetime customers if they are introduced to an industry's food product early in life. About $200 billion dollars are spent each year on treating health conditions that are due to obesity. These include a 2012 study by the American Institute of Medicine, which reported that sugary drinks are the main cause of this obesity problem. Of course, this has been denied by the food and beverage industries [1]. Sugar intake can come from a variety of foods, but the Obesity Society and the U.S. National Institute of Health specifically mention sugary drinks as the main driving force being the rise in worldwide obesity, and the resulting rise in Type 2 diabetes cases [2][6]. Recent studies have shown that about 66% of American adults, and 33% of American children, are overweight or obese. A 20-year study, published in 2011 by the National Institute of Health found that people who increased their sugary drink intake by 21 ounces a day gained, on average, an additional pound every four years than those who did not [2]. Similar studies by the National Institute of Health, that were concluded in 2010 and 2012, found that those who consume 1 to 2 cans of sugary drinks a day have 20% to 26% more chance of getting overweight, developing Type 2 diabetes, or having a heart attack than those who rarely have sugary drinks [3]. Over the past 40 years, adults and children kept increasing their intake of soft drinks whose portion size has risen substantially. Before the 1950', the standard portion size was 6.5 ounces. It rose to 42 ounces in 2011. In the 1970's, sugary drinks made for 4% of the daily calorie intake in the US, and for 9% in 2001.[1] This leaves no doubt that we are experiencing a rise in the consumption of sugar, which leaves individuals vulnerable to becoming obese, and risk getting Type 2 diabetes. Among the sugary drinks that The American Diabetes Association warns against, we find regular soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweet tea. A serving of which can contain hundreds of calories. Even though we now know that being overweight increases our chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, it is also a fact that other risk factors do also exist for people who are not overweight to get Type 2 diabetes. These include family history of diabetes, ethnicity, and age [4]. Next, we take a look at the foods that may not look like they are high in sugar, but actually are.

Learn how many food items have more sugar than people think

Physicians and health professionals have been studying the sugar content of food for a quite a while to find out what food has more sugar than another food. These studies have led to a number of surprising statistics about the amount of sugar in foods that we consume regularly, or that may not be widely known as carrying much sugar. Foods that are widely known to be rich in sugar include cake, ice cream, cookies, and soda. Looking more carefully at the grocery store labels on other foods, one might be surprised to see that a can of pasta sauce or barbecue sauce contains 11 grams of sugar, or that a bottle of tea has 50 grams of sugar. Knowing what food has more sugar than another may not be obvious at first look, since many of these foods might be advertised as diet foods, healthy, fat free, light syrup, made with real fruit, or excellent sources of some nutrient or another, such as Calcium or Vitamin C. One should keep in mind that 4 grams of sugar, as indicated on a grocery store label, is the equivalent of one teaspoon of granulated sugar, and holds about 16 calories. One should also keep in mind that these grams might include sugar from fruits, milk, and added sweeteners. Hence, some food products, like raisin bran might show high levels of sugar even though they have little to no added granulated sugar. There are no statistics telling us how many food products have more sugar than one would expect. They may range from canned fruits, such as DelMonte Fruit Chillers Frozen Fruit Sorbet, a small cup of which has 26 grams of sugar, to bottled spaghetti sauce, such as Prego Fresh Mushroom Italian Sauce, a ½ cup of which has 11 grams of sugar. [7] Other surprisingly sugary foods include Jell-O Instant Vanilla (21 grams of sugar per serving), Quaker Oatmeal to Go (19 grams of sugar per bar), Instant Cream of Wheat, Apples ‘n Cinnamon (16 grams of sugar per envelope), Kellogg’s Smart Start Strong Heart, Toasted Oat (17 grams of sugar per cup), Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Barbecue Sauce (15 grams of sugar per two table spoons), Sixteen ounces of Nesquick Fat Free Chocolate Milk (54 grams of sugar per 16 ounces), Minute Maid Lemonade, 12% Lemon Juice All Natural (29 grams of sugar per 8 ounces), Snapple Iced Tea (48 grams of sugar per 16 ounces), Snapple Antioxidant Water (32 grams of sugar per 20 ounces), Yoplait Original 99% fat free, Lemon Burst (31 grams of sugar per 6 ounces), Jimmy Dean Breakfast Entrees, Sausage & Cheese Croissant with diced apples and hash browns (21 grams of sugar per entree), Weight Watchers Ice Cream (22 grams of sugar per small cup) [7]. The above findings lead us to conclude that it is imperative for us to find out how many calories we should intake, on average, each day to avoid getting overweight and risking Type 2 diabetes and other complications. One may seek the advice of a nutritionist or a health professional to see how many grams of sugar per day could be prescribed as a healthy choice given one's, age, height, gender, genetic background, lifestyle, and overall physical health. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University concurred with our need to reduce our sugar consumption when she said: “How much circumstantial evidence do you need before you take action? At this point we have enough circumstantial evidence to advise people to keep their sugar a lot lower than it normally is.”[5]