How Much Added Sugar Are You Consuming? (And Why You Should Care)

daily sugar

by The Health Sciences Academy — Get free science updates here.

daily sugar

If you had to take a wild guess at how much your daily sugar intake is, what would you say?

Would you think 10 teaspoons might be a lot?

Think three times that.

  • Americans average 156 pounds (71 kilos) of sugar per year.
  • The average Briton ingests 150 pounds (68 kilos) of sugar every year.
  • Australians win that sugar round leveling out at 116 pounds (53 kilos) a year.

Those figures average to 2.7 pounds (1.2 kilos) a week – about 30 teaspoons of sugar a day!

The shame of sugar is that most people are eating much more than they actually believe.

Some professionals, like Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, are even saying that “sugar is the new tobacco” because of its addictive qualities that seem to be leading us into a health disaster.

Since 1990, consumption of sugar in Britain has increased by 31%. And, according to Euromonitor, now we eat 93.2 grams per person a day – nearly four times the recommended limit!

Worlds Biggest Sugar Eaters_By The Health Sciences Academy_Where people eat the most sugar

It is no surprise that health scientists, and even the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, have been lobbying to tax sugar in processed foods.

Before we start colouring outside the sugar lines, let’s get back to you and why you really should care about your daily sugar intake.

Sorting out the sugars

Whether it is for yourself or for your client, one of the first things we need to get clear on is the difference between existing, or natural, sugars versus added sugars.

Naturally occurring sugars are those found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). They exist within the food or drink.

The added sugars are the ones you need to care about.

The most common added sugars are regular table sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

Sugar of this sort is so popular that it goes by at least 65 names!

Click HERE to get the PDF with the full list.

Because we don’t truly realise just how much sugar we are consuming, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with those names so you’re able to recognise a bad actor when you read a food or drink label!

The American Heart Association makes it very clear that added sugars contribute zero nutrients, but add calories that can lead to extra pounds or even obesity, thereby reducing heart health.

How much sugar is too much sugar?

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued some guidelines calling for a reduction of daily sugar intake with the objective to decrease the amount of added sugar.

Their advice is to limit added sugars to 5% of your total daily calories, which is equal to 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for an adult of normal body mass index (BMI).

Similarly, the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends that “free sugars” should be no more than 5% of your diet.

“Free sugars” are sugars that have been added to food as well as those naturally present in honey, syrup, and unsweetened fruit juices (those high-sugar foods that your body absorbs faster). The sugar found in milk and dairy foods (called “lactose”) is not considered a “free sugar”.

All things considered, it certainly can be a challenge to know just how much sugar is ‘hidden’ in the food you eat.

Where are the sneaky sugars?

Here are 5 favoured, inconspicuous offenders that contain high sugar:

  1. soft drinks or sugar-sweetened beverages
  2. cereal
  3. pasta sauces
  4. fruit yoghurt
  5. energy drinks

Sure, there are many more, but that will get you started with some popular items.

Here’s a simple formula to keep in mind when reading labels.

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar

Stay alert and aware with that quick math when you read your food labels.

What does an excess of daily sugar do to your body?

One thing you can be sure of – nothing good.

It doesn’t help that the UK tops the European league table in sales of sweets, cakes, and biscuits.

Besides sugar being called “the new tobacco” and considered an addictive drug, we all know how habit forming it can be. Because it has a heroin-like effect that lights up the pleasure centers in your brain, you might think of it like a broken traffic light, flashing all 3 colours at once.


Because your pleasure centres have now been taken over, overriding your hunger signals. Talk about hijacking your brain!

It has been shown that sugars are the only cause of tooth decay in children and adults. Tooth decay is the most common non-communicable disease in the world, affecting 60-90% of school-age children and the vast majority of adults.

High sugar intake contributes to an array of severe health conditions like coronary heart diseases, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

There are also studies that confirm a strong link between consuming a lot sugar and the suppression of the body’s immune system.

It also plays a key role in the development of many types of cancer as well as obesity and hypertension.

Don’t let sugar run nor ruin your life

Sugar is everywhere.

We can’t let sugar run our life nor ruin our health. You can break the sugar habit beginning right now: here’s the first most important steps.

Armed with what you now know, you can begin with awareness, especially when it comes to reading nutritional labels. Watch out for those sneaky, hidden, added sugars. They will pull you down as fast as you can eat those Fruit Loops and down that Monster drink.

For the sake of your health, well-being, and energy sustainability steer clear of all that excess sugar.

One of the simplest ways to banish sugary foods in your house is to not buy them. When you’re at the supermarket fight that junk food by getting into the habit of reading labels as you load up your trolley.

What about you? How much added sugar are you consuming? If you have tallied it up, are you surprised? Let us know in the comments below. Please share this with someone who could benefit from the sweet information above!

The-Health-Sciences-Academy-Alejandra-Ruani-small1-right Alex Ruani, Doctoral Researcher, is the Chief Science Educator at The Health Sciences Academy, where her team of accomplished scientists and PhDs are training a new breed of over 100,000 highly-specialised nutrition professionals who are leveraging the latest personalisation strategies to help their clients. She is a Harvard-trained scientist and UCL Doctoral Researcher who is fanatical about equipping health professionals with the latest science-based tools so they can succeed in their practices – from identifying the unique nutrient needs to building highly personalised nutrition programs. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition biochemistry, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free email updates.

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