How much sugar are you drinking?


The United States Department of Agriculture1 reports that the average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugar each day. That adds up to about 58 pounds of added sugar each year! At first glance, it seems like we are eating a lot of candy, cookies and cake. But in reality, many of us are drinking, rather than eating, all that excess sugar.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from added sugar to about 10% of our total calorie intake. For someone on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, that’s about 12 teaspoons per day. But what we pour into our cups and glasses leads us to exceed those limits routinely

Did you know?

  • A typical 20-ounce can of soda has about 250 calories, all from sugar
  • Sports drinks and energy drinks have the same amount of sugar as soda
  • Ounce for ounce, fruit juice contains just as much sugar as soda
  • One can of a best-selling soft drink has the same amount of sugar as five cream-filled chocolate snack cakes
  • One bottle of apple juice contains the same amount of sugar as ten chocolate sandwich cookies
  • One bottle of a leading sports drink contains the same amount of sugar as five peanut butter and chocolate candy cups
  • An iced caramel latte from a popular coffee chain has the same amount of sugar as four cake donuts

And we drink them all down without a second thought. The USDA reports2 that almost half of our added sugar intake comes from sugar-laden drinks.

The Bitter Truth About Too Much Sugar

Excess sugar can cause obesity and overtax our pancreas, leading to Type 2 diabetes. It is also a contributing factor to heart disease. Excess body weight from overconsumption of sugar also makes it easier for cancer cells to grow.3

So what can we do to avoid overindulging in liquid sugar?

Here are seven tips to help you dial back on this sweet problem that’s adversely affecting our collective health.

  1. Read nutrition labels: If your drink of choice has more sugar than the USDA recommended amount of 12 teaspoons, look for an alternative.
  2. Don’t be fooled: Many drink packages show pictures of fruit. But a quick look at the label reveals that these drinks are about 5% juice, while the other 95% is water, sugar, corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners.
  3. Limit fruit juice: Ounce for ounce, fruit juice contains the same calories and sugar as soda. The American Academy of Pediatrics4 recommends limiting juice intake to four ounces per day for children ages one to three, six ounces for children ages four to six and 8 ounces for children seven and older. Better yet, encourage them to eat the apple, orange or berries, instead.
  4. Enjoy in moderation: Limiting your serving size is a great way to cut down on calories. Don’t drink straight out of the bottle or can. Instead, pour the drink into a smaller glass. Order smaller size coffee drinks and sip them slowly.
  5. Expand your options: Serve water and low-fat or non-fat plain milk to children. Replace your soda with iced tea. Set a good example by drinking plenty of water yourself.
  6. Avoid the upgrades: Adding flavored syrup or creamers to your coffee or tea ratchets up the sugar content quickly. Coffee drinkers can doctor up their drink with natural flavors, such as cinnamon and swap out the sugar-infused creamers for low-fat milk. Tea drinkers can add slices of citrus fruit, such as lemon, lime and orange, to boost flavor without added sugar.
  7. Treat drinks like candy: Very few of us would eat ten cookies or five snack cakes every day. Treat sugar-filled beverages the same way and enjoy them as a once-in-a-while indulgence.

Eliminating liquid sugar from your diet takes a little planning and a lot of willpower. In the end, you will reap terrific long-term health benefits from your efforts.

GuideStone cares about your health. We believe that when the Body of Christ is healthy, it’s free to transform the world. That’s why each of our health plans includes wellness tools and resources designed to keep you healthy and ready to serve. See why GuideStone’s Christian health plans are a good fit for your team.

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