A movement is afoot to regulate excess sugar. The best way to make sure that it doesn’t happen, is to develop a more balanced approach for its use. The health consequences are serious, so I think that this is worth a healthy debate.
Americans today consume unhealthy amounts of sugar. The evidence is all around us. Soaring obesity rates and the type 2 diabetes epidemic are just two examples. Some scientists argue that sugar is addictive, and we cannot beat it ourselves. I don’t necessarily agree with this assessment, but I do agree that it take effort. Effort, to date, we have not been willing to put forth.
Excess refined sugar adds empty calories to your diet, with little to no nutritional value. There have been studies that show the link to health problems even in normal weight people.
The American Heart Association recommends that men eat no more than nine added teaspoons of sugar a day, women six. Well, you might be thinking, I don’t add that much. True, you may not, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been added for you. A typical can of cola, for example, contains about 8 teaspoons of sugar, and that’s not the only place it’s found. Try eating cereal without added sugar – good luck. The bottom line is, the average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day.
The science behind the effects of excess sugar is solid, and some use that as a reason for why policy makers should act. I’m not ready to go that far. I think most people just don’t know how much sugar they are really eating. I think that if people were aware of the amount and the risk, they would make different choices. If you are dieting, you need to check the label on everything that you eat. On every label, the sugar content is listed in grams(g) per serving. A teaspoon is roughly 4 grams. So, for men, the recommended daily amount is 36g, women 24g. Always check the serving size. This is another little trick. One bottle or can may actually be two servings, so always make sure that you’ve got the right amount. Do it for one day, and see how much you consume and from where.
I think education is preferable to regulation. At a minimum, food labeling could be improved to call out the added sugar content more directly, or even include a % maximum daily recommended allowance of something similar. The idea of taxing sugary foods, limiting availability, or setting an age limit, I think, goes too far. Sugar has a place. Look, I think scientists are being a bit naïve when they think people will eat fruit all the time, or consumers aren’t capable of making good decisions. I think it’s on us to read labels and to get educated.
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