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Friday, September 10, 2010

How Much Sugar Do Americans Consume?

The human race did not evolve to consume so much carb as we currently consume and it's bound to reak havoc with our bodies. Some have called sugar the silent killer. So, I wanted to ask just how much sugar do Americans consume?

Several internet sources claim that the average American consumes more than 150 pounds of sugar per year, some, well actually many, consume much much more! I think the original source for this factoid came from a 2002 report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and of course the sugar association disputes it. When my Grandmother was a little girl, the average American only consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year so things have changed considerably. Oh, the same agency reports that many Americans eat almost double this amount per year! Of course, the Sugar Association, founded by members of the sugar industry, strongly disagrees with these stats.

According to the American Heart Association:

The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day (that's simple sugar, not carbs in general). They say the biggest sources come from soda pop (33%) and candy (16.1%), ...hmmm, what about the high fructose corn syrup I read on the ingredient label of almost every condiment package I pick up these days and the vast majority of processed food packages I read... well, first they say cakes, cookies, and pies contribute 12.9%, sweetened fruit drinks 9.7%, sweetened milk products (like icecream and sweetened yogurt) contribute 8.6%, and sweetened grains like cinnamon and honey-nut waffles another 5.8%. Ok, add all that up and you've got 86.1%. I'm betting this is actually an underestimate because things like condiments often don't get counted. I recently went through a drawer of condiments collected from various fast food restaurants. I threw out about 80% of them because they contained high fructose corn syrup.

Looking at high fructose corn syrup specifically (which I believe is even worse than eating plain white sugar): the average American eats about 98 pounds of this stuff a year. I find it really difficult to avoid because so many products contain it. You basically just have to resolve yourself to not eating processed pre-packaged convenient food. One of my solutions is to cook more quantity when I cook up something really good and freeze individual servings in handy dandy microwaveable containers (yes, I know...microwaves aren't good either....working on that one but having to do this one step at a time).

More on this topic later.

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