Thursday, October 01, 2009

Heart group: Cut WAY back, on extra sugar

Associated Press Writer

A spoonful of sugar? Americans are swallowing 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, and it's time to cut way back, the American Heart Association says. Most of that added sugar comes from soft drinks and candy — a whopping 355 calories and the equivalent of guzzling two cans of soda and eating a chocolate bar.

By comparison, most women should be getting no more than 6 teaspoons a day, or 100 calories, of added sugar — the sweeteners and syrups that are added to foods during processing, preparation or at the table. For most men, the recommended limit is 9 teaspoons, or 150 calories, the heart group says. The guidelines do not apply to naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruit, vegetables or dairy products.

Rachel K. Johnson, lead author of the statement published online Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, said "Take a good hard look at your diet. Figure out where the sources of added sugars are and think about how to cut back on that."

She said about 8 ounces of fruit-flavored yogurt has about 6 teaspoons of added sugar; 8 ounces of low-fat chocolate milk has about 4 teaspoons; a cup of frosted whole grain cereal has about 3 teaspoons. The biggest culprits for the glut of sugar are soft drinks by far, followed by candy, cakes, cookies and pies. With about 8 teaspoons of added sugar, a regular 12-ounce soft drink will put most women over the recommended daily limit.

Sandon said that parents can help lower that sugar intake by getting soda out of the house, looking at how much sugar is in their kids' cereal and substituting snacks like cookies with popcorn. "We know for sure that if you are consuming excessive amounts of added sugar, you will add calories, which leads to weight gain, or you will displace other essential nutrients," she said.

On average, most women need about 1,800 calories a day and most men need about 2,200, Johnson said. If someone drinks their daily calorie needs in soft drinks, they will be maintaining their weight, but won't be getting any nutrients, she said.

See: Heart group: Cut back - way back- on extra sugar, Carbohydrates and Sugars and American Heart Association recommends reduced intake of added sugars

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