Our Sugar Society

Try this. Pick almost any aisle in the center of the supermarket, close your eyes, then reach out and touch a product. Chances are it will contain added sugar in one form or another.

Soft drinks are the largest source of sugar in the American diet, delivering a third of all added sugars. Another three-fifths come from baked goods, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, candy and cereals. The remainder are found in unexpected places including luncheon meats, ketchup and other sauces, salad dressings, French fries, even baby foods and diet supplements1.

Consider these even more disturbing stats on the sweet "poison" that fuels the lifestyle of most Americans:

  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, we each consume an average of 154 pounds of sugars (including corn syrup and other caloric sweeteners), up from an average of 123 pounds in the early 1970's2.
  • This translates into an average of nearly 750 calories a day derived from sugar and its kin, the equivalent of 190 grams.
  • We each consume an average of 53 gallons of sugar-laden soft drinks each year3.
  • Intake of added sugars is estimated to increase almost 20 percent between 1996 and 20054.
  • On average, we get 16 percent of our daily caloric intake from added sugars; children aged 6 to 11, 18 percent; teenagers aged 12 to 19, 20 percent5.
  • For every soft drink a child drinks each day, the chance of becoming obese increases by 50 percent6.

The USDA recommends that individuals can consume added sugars in limited amounts as long as they control their calorie intake. Keeping in mind that Atkins products contain absolutely no added sugar, let’s see how some popular foods stack up in terms of added sugar content:

Prime Offenders

FoodRDA of Added Sugar
A cup of fruit yogurt70 %
A cup of regular ice cream60 %
One 12-ounce Pepsi103 %
One Hostess Lemon Fruit Pie115 %
One serving Kellogg's Marshmallow Blasted Froot Loops®40 %
Quarter-cup of pancake syrup30 %
One Cinnabon®123 %
McDonald's large shake120 %
Dairy Queen large Misty® Slush280 %
Burger King Cini-Mini with Icing95 %

Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest

Avoidance Techniques

In addition to the eagle eye you’ll need to avoid consuming sugar and its close relatives in processed foods and beverages here are a few more tips to keep these insidious ingredients at bay.

  • Banish sugar and other caloric sweeteners from your kitchen. Instead use a sugar substitute in granular form for baking and in packets for sweetening beverages. We recommend the use of sucralose, marketed as Splenda®, saccharin, marketed as Sweet ’n Low® or acesulfame-K, marketed as Sweet One, Swiss Sweet and Sunett. Sugar-free syrups are another delicious way to sweeten desserts and beverages.
  • Use controlled-carbohydrate food alternatives to high-sugar foods.
  • Avoid breath mints, chewing gum and cough syrups that list sugars as ingredients.

Selected References:

  1. Center for Science in the Public Interest.
  2. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/sb965/sb965h.pdf.
  3. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/sb965/sb965h.pdf.
  4. Center for Science in the Public Interest.
  5. Center for Science in the Public Interest.
  6. Ludwig, D.S., Peterson, K.E., Gortmaker, S.L., “Relation Between Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks and Childhood Obesity: A Prospective, Observational Analysis,” Lancet, 2001 February 17; 357(9255), pages 505-8.