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A lot of today’s health headlines focus on how much sugar Americans are consuming and how bad this can be for their bodies. News outlets talk about the amount of sugar in a can of soda, in breakfast cereals, and in processed foods. Articles and news stories also show that there’s even sugar in foods you wouldn’t expect it to be in like some brands of peanut butter and spaghetti sauce. Are things really that bad? Let’s take a look.

Some statistics show that sugar intake is decreasing

Despite the headlines, for a few years now some statistics show that Americans’ sugar intake actually is decreasing. In late 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released reports showing that the consumption of both sugar and other artificial sweeteners were down for the third year in a row. Other reports agree. It’s worth noting, however, that some of these reports were compiled in connection to the sugar trade organizations. Such was the case with a study by the Nutrition Research Reviews which was conducted with help from the World Sugar Research Organization, and a set of 2015 statistics on sugar intake that were compiled on the website of the Sugar Association.  However, while its good news that these statistics show a downward trend, is it time really time to stop obsessing over our sugar intake? Maybe. Maybe not.

American sugar intake is still too high

Unfortunately, it might be too soon to believe that American’s sugar intake is under control. Americans continue to consume between 94 and 124 grams of sugar a day depending on the survey you look at.  According to the American Heart Association, the amount of sugar that men should consume each day is about 37.5 grams and for women is 25 grams. That’s a big difference.

Upon closer examination, its easy to see how sugar consumption can skyrocket. A can of soda can push you past your limit on sugar consumption. So could the wrong choice for breakfast or a snack of processed foods. Depending on what your schedule is like, there may not be time to plan ahead to have lower-sugar food easily within reach. As a result, when hunger strikes it’s easier to pick up something that can make your sugar intake rise.

Americans may also be consuming more sugar based on where they live. Some people live in areas where fast food restaurants and convenience stores are easier to get to than traditional grocery stores. These restaurants and small shops typically offer fewer fresh food and more processed foods with higher added sugars to help them taste better. If residents in one of these areas can’t easily get to a source for fresher food, their consumed grams of sugar can easily add up.

Sugar consumption around the globe

With its high numbers, the U.S. leads the world in sugar consumption. Other countries may be struggling as well. The top ten consumers of sugar include Germany, the United Kingdom, and Finland. The lowest country of the top ten sugar consumers is Canada and they still consume just over 89 grams of sugar per person per day.

Eating less sugar is important, Americans are learning how

So, why does sugar intake matter so much? While the sweet stuff is fine in moderation when it is overconsumed, not so much. Too much sugar has a direct connection to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes which can lead to other complicating conditions including sight problems.

The good news is that Americans are hearing this message and are making changes. While their sugar intake still may be too high, it is going in the right direction. With continued awareness of the health dangers and better habit building, perhaps the U.S. can eat away at their sugar intake levels over time.