Too much sugar leads to obesity, other health issues

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This week a new study reported that banning sugary sodas in schools does not reduce consumption of obesity-generating beverages. Kids end up drinking sweetened fruit or sports drinks instead.

IU Health Pediatrician Dr. David Kosten says the average adult should consume about 25 to 30 pounds of sugar per year.

He says in the 1970s, the average American consumed about 90-100 pounds of sugar per year. Now we're up to about 160 pounds of sugar annually.

"Sugar is our body's fuel. We actually need some of it. We just have way too much of it," said Dr. Kosten. "When you get too much of it, our body stores the extra as fat."

If you don't do anything to burn it off, you'll pack on the pounds.

Processed foods, soft drinks and of course desserts are all culprits. You can make smarter choices by going for sugar-free or reduced sugar items.

What is the result of consuming too much sugar?

Tooth decay

All forms of sugar promote tooth decay by allowing bacteria to grow. The more often and longer you snack on foods and beverages with either natural sugar or added sugar, the more likely you are to develop cavities, especially if you don't practice good oral hygiene. Poor nutrition.

If you fill up on foods laden with added sugar, you may skimp on nutritious foods, which means you could miss out on important nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Regular soda plays an especially big role. It's easy to fill up on sweetened soft drinks and skip low-fat milk and even water - giving you lots of extra sugar and calories and no nutritional value.

Weight gain

There's usually no single cause for being overweight or obese. But added sugar likely contributes to the problem. Sugar adds calories to food and beverages making them more calorie-dense. When you eat foods that are sugar sweetened, it is easier to consume more calories than if the foods are unsweetened. Increased triglycerides. Eating an excessive amount of added sugar can increase triglyceride levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease.

Recommendations regarding added sugar

In the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends cutting back on calories from SoFAS. For most people, that means no more than about 5 to 15 percent of total daily calories should come from SoFAS.

The American Heart Association has specific guidelines for added sugar - no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That's about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men.

Most Americans get more than 22 teaspoons - or 355 calories - of added sugar a day, which far exceeds USDA guidelines and American Heart Association recommendations.