American Heart Association’s Stand on Sugar

April 13, 2011

Sugar is an ingredient that has been the center of a lot of debate lately; health organizations are falling short when it comes to recommendations. See what the AHA has to say.

Sugar is an ingredient that has been the center of a lot of debate lately.  Whether it’s a proposed soda tax or even one of the main culprits in the latest research into food addiction, sugar is a hot topic – although most health authorities fail to set specific recommendations for this high calorie, no nutrition sweetener. According to the American Heart Association, adult consumption of added sugars has been on the rise since the 80’s; a whopping fifty one percent in both women and men.
Are consumers leery of sugars? According to the Hartman Group, consumers most commonly associate “sugar” with ingredients such as white sugar (96 percent), followed by high fructose corn syrup (41 percent), corn syrup (40 percent), brown sugar (36 percent) and honey (21 percent). When asked what products moms avoid for their kids when sugar content is high – 62 percent said beverages, 58 percent said foods for school lunches, 55 percent said snacks and 49 percent said treats to eat at home. Although sugars are not harmful to the body in moderation, our bodies actually do not require sugars for optimal functioning.
The American Heart Association sets an upper limit for daily added sugar intake at no more than 100 calories for women and 150 for men.  This is roughly six and nine teaspoons respectively; or approximately 25.2 and 37.8 grams. For reference one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains eight teaspoons of sugar, or 130 calories. Sugar is implied in heart disease, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, hypertension, diabetes, decreased immunity, general inflammation and more. The Lempert Report commends the American Heart Association for calling out and recommending the limited intake of added sugars and their relationship to disease. The American Heart Association’s transparency is something all health organizations including governmental organizations should strive to replicate.
Share these stats with your customers and instruct them how to read ingredient lists to avoid added sugars. All Americans could benefit from avoiding excess sugars for both prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and for overall health.