The Science of Sugar: What sugar may be doing to our bodies
Americans are consuming more sugar than ever before. But what effect is this sweet trend having on our health?
Laura Schmidt, a professor at University of California San Francisco, says Americans consume nearly three times more sugar than is recommended.
“Currently we’re consuming about twice as much as we did say in 1970,” she said.
Schmidt and scientists from around the country have launched “Sugar Science,” an initiative to educate people about how sugar impacts health. It’s based on more than 8,000 studies.
“It’s all about getting what we know in the medical journals out to the public,” Schmidt said.
Too much added sugar is linked to heart disease in adults and diabetes in kids. Twenty years ago, Type 2 diabetes was almost unheard of in children. Today, more than 20,000 have been diagnosed with the disease.
“It’s completely unacceptable that a child would have adult-onset diabetes at the age of 13,” said Dean Schillinger, a professor at University of California San Francisco.
Too much sugar can also impact the liver and can cause the same disease that alcohol does. Nearly 31 percent of adults and 13 percent of kids now have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
“This is something, a condition that we didn’t even have diagnosis for 30 years ago before the American public started consuming so much sugar,” Schmidt said.
Scientists recommend women consume no more than six teaspoons, or 25 grams, of added sugar a day. For men, it’s nine teaspoons, or 38 grams. Sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks make up 37 percent of added sugar consumed in the U.S. Just one can of soda a day is more than the recommended limit for women.
The bottom line? Ditch those sugary drinks and snacks for a better, healthier you.
Schmidt says not to worry about natural sugars from fruits and vegetables, as those are considered healthy. Their research is focused on added sugars. For more information, visit SugarScience.org.