Americans have outrageous levels of sugar consumption

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 21:58 EDT
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Cord at GOOD has a post up about this visualization of your average American's food consumption in a year. 

I'm genuinely surprised at how much dairy we consume.  What's that about?  Do people just straight up drink milk?  That's really weird. 

Anyway, Cord's big concern is the amount of high fructose corn syrup people are consuming, which some studies indicate may be even worse for you than other sugars.

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day and that men consume no more than nine, which amounts to about 100 and 150 calories, respectively. Forty-two pounds is the equivalent of 3,865 teaspoons of corn syrup, or almost 11 per day. Nobody should be eating that much added sugar.

Exacerbating the problem is that high-fructose corn syrup has been shown to be worse than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain. Last year, researchers at Princeton University discovered that rats supplied with corn syrup got significantly fatter than rats fed regular sugar, even when caloric intake between the groups was the same. What makes that particularly frightening is how frequently food brands have begun using corn syrup in place of real sugar, which is more expensive.

I'm somewhat skeptical about the research, because it's only been done on rats.  But I do think there's reason to believe a person who eats something sweetened with HFCS might eat more of it than something with the same amount of sweetener that is in sugar form, because HFCS just tastes less substantial, causing you to eat more in hopes of feeling satisfied.  

Regardless of where the sugar is coming from, however, it's just way too much damn sugar.  What's particularly troubling to me is that the "average" amount of sugar eaten doesn't even tell us enough about the problem.  There's a lot of people who don't really eat that many sweets and they're pulling down the average.  What these numbers say to me is that a lot of people are eating a lot of sweets—I'm guessing the average person who eats more than the recommended maximum of sugar on a regular basis is getting way more than 11 tablespoons.  I'm guessing a lot of people are getting a shockingly high percentage of their calories from processed sugar, especially since it's cheap and easy to get.  No wonder diabetes rates are soaring. 

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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