As the United States continues to grow in population, its population also continues to grow in size. Currently, one-third of the United States population (35.7%) is obese and approximately 17% of our children and adolescents ages 12-19 years are obese (CDC). This unhealthy weight trend has been connected to our western diet and our lack of daily physical activity.
Today, sugar is an additive that can be found is almost everything we eat. Naturally, sugar is found in fruits and some vegetables, but food scientists have discovered ways to isolate these sugars to create higher concentrations that can be inexpensively added to many products to provide more sweetness. Added sugar has been linked as a major contributor in the rise of overweight and obesity trends in the United States. The American Heart Association has recognized this connection and has reduced the recommended amount of added sugar to 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men. A single can of soda, alone, has around 10 teaspoons of sugar. On average, Americans consume around 22 teaspoons (355 calories) of sugar a day. (MAYO) Because sugar is in so many food products, it can be difficult to monitor your daily intake. Be cautious of what you are consuming and read your food labels!
Here are some tips:
- Cut out sugary beverages from the diet – aim for nutrient-dense drinks.
- Choose breakfast cereals and instant oatmeal carefully – read the labels.
- Have fresh fruits for dessert instead of cakes, cookies, and other sweets.
- Go easy on condiments such as ketchup and sugary salad dressings.
- Keep a food log to help you monitor what you are consuming daily – resaerch the sugar content!
Use this flow chart to aid you in making smart choices when it comes to your sweet tooth!