Average US Teen Consumes 28 Teaspoons (~500 Calories) of Added Sugar PER DAY!

The American Heart Association’s Circulation Magazine just published a report which concludes with something everyone already knows:

Consumption of added sugars among US adolescents is positivelyassociated with multiple measures known to increase cardiovasculardisease risk. read more…

Researchers from the CDC and Atlanta’s Emory University studied thousands of teens’ sugar consumption rates over the course of five years and correlated that to incidence of coronary disease and its predictors. They discovered that

  • The average teen consumes 28 teaspoons of added sugar per day. That’s almost 500 calories worth!
  • Those consuming the most sugar (30% or more of total calories) had almost 10% more bad blood cholesterol and 10% less good cholesterol than those who ate the least added sugar (less than 10% of total calories).
  • Overweight and obese teens who ate the most sugar also had the most insulin resistance.

What you need to know:

Is anyone really surprised? The food industry (and any industry, actually) loves teens. They are impressionable and can be converted to loyal lifetime customers. And they have their own money to spend, in many cases.

So where does the added sugar come from? The study didn’t go into those details, but we all know that soda pop plays a big factor. A standard vending machine bottle of Coke has 20 fl oz of drink, to consumed by one person. It has 240 calories, or roughly 15 teaspoons of sugar in it! Drink two of those a day, and you’re all set…

Of course there are tons of other sugar sources out there as well – breakfast cereals, snacks, energy bars, etc…

What to do at the supermarket:

If you are a teen and reading this – kudos! It’s never too early too start taking an interest in nutrition. The quickest and most effective way for you to slash you sugar intake is by going cold turkey on all beverages. From now on – only tap water.

If you’re thinking diet soda, think again.

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  • http://www.feedyourheaddiet.com Ken Leebow

    It’s not a good assumption to believe everyone is familiar with the problems related to sugar consumption … )”something everyone already knows”).

    In my presentations, people are shocked to learn the volume of sugar we consume. To illustrate the point, I bring along a container holding a year’s worth of sugar from consuming just one Coke/Pepsi per day … it’s somewhat shocking … http://bit.ly/awEpYV

    Once people see this, they are more willing to make a change.

  • http://foodtrainers.blogspot.com Lauren Slayton

    Is it so bad to say I would’ve expected worse? 28 teaspoons is a bit over 1/2 cup of sugar, a lot not not obscene. Sad to think about what you said “food industry loves teens.”

  • Kate

    It seems like everyone is harping on the dangers of sugar in pop recently including the ridiculous idea of adding warning labels. While I agree pop is not a great product to have in excess, I think a much larger source of sugar in the diets of most people over the age of 13 is coffee drinks.

    As someone that doesn’t drink fruit juice, alcohol, coffee or tea, I get a lot of flak from people about the “dangers” of my one can of regular cola I have each day. So many people seem aware of the dangers of pop, but have no clue that those fancy mixed coffee beverages they spend so much money on are worse.

    For example, here’s the nutritional information for a Starbucks Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino: http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/frappuccino-blended-beverages/caffe-vanilla-frappuccino-blended-coffee?foodZone=9999

    There are 64g of sugar in a single drink (slightly more than a 20 fl oz pop), not to mention the calories, fat and caffeine! Many adults have one or two of these each day. I think that’s a much bigger issue than having a can of pop.

    Additionally, every morning, lunch and after school the Starbucks near the junior high and high schools are packed with students buying these large, calorie and sugar laden drinks. Most teens drink coffee and most prefer the hyper-sweet varieties.

    Parents should watch how much of these hyper-sweetened coffee beverages both they and their children are consuming, as for many people fancy coffees are a much larger source of sugar than pop.

  • http://www.thetableofpromise.blogspot.com The Table of Promise

    What I am shocked about is the fact that the Sugar Association has not moved to legally surpress the results of the recent tests run by the CDC!!! They have fought and silenced the WHO before, why would they be scared to undermine the findings of the CDC, who lives on the same soil? It’s only time before these findings get supressed.

    And @Lauren Slayton, I don’t mean this disrespectfully (I really don’t!!!!) but a half a cup of sugar a day is certainly obscene. Part of the country’s issue with sugar is that we don’t think that a half a cup a day is so bad. But that is just the average. Some folks are eating far more. There is ZERO nutrition in sugar. There is absolutely nothing that your body can use for basic function except energy calories that will likely get stored. And because sugar is addictive likely these teens will use moe as they get older.

  • http://www.foodieformerlyfat.com Foodie, Formerly Fat

    This problem has so many facets to it it’s almost hard to know where to start.

    Yes, cutting down on our overt sugar intake is extremely important. Reducing our intake of things like soda, coffee drinks, candy, etc. is an obvious first step. But there is so much more that needs to be done.

    We need to be aware of how much of the processed foods we buy have sugar and high fructose corn syrup in them without our realizing it. Most people would not think that a loaf of bread from the grocery store would be a culprit in spreading sugar, but it is. Reading the ingredient list on foods in addition to reading the nutritional label is essential in terms of knowing what we are actually eating. Sugar gets hidden away in places you would never expect!

    We also need to catch these issues with our kids long before they are teenagers. My daughter is 6 years old and she drinks almost exclusively water. We don’t buy soda, fruit drinks, or even fruit juice. She’s learning young about what healthy is and how to see the difference between a slice of cake on her birthday and eating candy for a snack every afternoon (which she would never choose).

    These issues have to go together in order to see any real change. The change has to start at home in the form of teaching our kids about nutrition and balance in eating. Then we have to not only enforce it for them, but walk the walk ourselves and eat properly to show them we’re in this with them. By cooking at home, from scratch, we can eliminate both the excess sugar (and salt) from our diets that comes in processed food and teach our kids what food can be at it’s best. That way a sweet treat once in a while is actually a treat and we don’t have to worry about it as much.

    One last thing. Using less refined sweeteners, like sucanat, certainly isn’t as good as eliminating sugar altogether, but it can help make those sometimes treats a bit healthier. Since sucanat hasn’t had all its vitamins and minerals refined out of it some small bit of nutritional value does remain.

  • Revan

    Are you sure you don’t mean High Fructose Corn Syrup – most soda doesn’t have sugar, but substitutes HFCS. It’s a pretty important distinction.

  • Kyle Frum

    How many grams is that?

  • Leslie landberg

    Sugar is absolutely toxic and should only be consumed sparingly. The National Council of Health needs to step in, as it did for cigarettes in the 1980′s, and begin a systematic and unrelenting public health campaign to alert people to the dangers. It takes over a generation for such public awareness messages to alter the behavior of the general population, but this is one of the main things that really works. Look at how many fewer people smoke these days. It used to be everywhere, now lone smokers huddle together in tiny groups outdoors. Laws were passed restricting where they were sold and how they were promoted, where you could smoke, age of legal consumption, etc.

    With growing general awareness of the risks, similar public support for restrictions on the prevalence of sugar in foods and beverages might follow.

    Banning the sale of sweetened beverages in public schools is a good start. Having a standard wrning label on everything would be great, too. How about “this product contains high amounts of sugar. Consuming more than 30 gms. Of sugar per day is dangerous for your health.”