US Sugar Consumption
Going 'Off The Charts'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. sugar consumption is rising "off the charts", leading health and nutrition experts said Wednesday, urging the government to commission a study to avoid negative health impacts.
In a letter to the secretaries of the Departments of Health and Agriculture, the experts said there was medical evidence that diets high in sugar could promote obesity, kidney stones, osteoporosis, heart disease and dental problems.
"Sugar consumption is off the charts," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit health advocacy group which joined over 45 other health groups and professors in signing the letter.
"Added sugars found largely in junk foods such as soft drinks, cakes and cookies squeeze healthier foods out of the diet," Jacobson added in a statement.
Jacobson said sugar accounted for 16 percent of the calories eaten by the average American and 20 percent of calories consumed by teenagers.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a daily diet of 2,000 calories should include no more than about 10 teaspoons of added sugar. USDA surveys show that most Americans eat roughly double that amount daily.
The health experts said soft drinks, with about nine teaspoons per 12-ounce can, were a main cause of the rise in sugar usage. Soda could contribute to osteoporosis as many teenage girls and women drank sugary soft drinks instead of calcium-rich milk.
"Many Americans will make New Year's resolutions to eat healthier and lose weight," said Dr. Margo Wootan, a senior scientist for the CSPI. "Cutting back on nutrient-poor sugary foods, such as soda, cookies, candies and pastries, will help people achieve their resolutions."
The experts said a National Academy of Sciences study would be able to assess the full impact of added sugars on Americans' diet and health and could urge policy changes and research.
"With all the focus on fat, we've forgotten about sugar. It's time to rethink our national infatuation with sweets," said Jacobson.