As the wealth of a nation increases, so does the population’s craving for sugary products. Sugar has been consumed by human civilizations for thousands of years. Even with the inclusion of high fructose corn syrup products, sugar consumption remains high.
Every year, the entire world consumes about 165 million tons of sugar. That’s a 23kg per capita average.
Sugar might sweeten things up, but it can also cause numerous health problems. Diabetes, pancreatic disorders, digestive tract inflammation, and tooth decay are all linked to excessive sugar consumption. Even when we don’t think we’re consuming sugar, we usually are. It is in so many foods today that unless it is fresh produce or proteins being consumed, there is at least a little sugar added to the food.
- The top 10 countries for sugar consumption in the world today account for about two-thirds of the total sugar consumption statistics.
- Israel leads the world in per capita sugar consumption with the average Israeli consuming 3x more sugar than the global average.
- On the other end of the spectrum is Bangladesh, which consumes 3x less sugar than the global per capita average.
- Since 1900, the average amount of sugar that is consumed by the average person has quadrupled from the 5.1kg per capita average.
- South America leads the world in sugar consumption from a continental perspective, with over 50 million tons of sugar annually consumed. This is followed by Oceania and then North America.
Part of the reason why sugar consumption has increased is because of improved shipping and growing processes. Not only can we make more sugar today than before, but we can get it to the furthest reaches of the planet so that everyone can have it if they want it. The other component of sugar consumption that may explain the dramatic increase in sugar consumption is that the dopamine that gets released provides “rewards” that make people want to eat more of it.
There Are Many Myths About Sugar Consumption
- More added sugar comes from foods [59%] that are consumed than from sugary beverages like carbonated soft drinks [41%].
- There are no differences in the amount of sugar that children consume when household income is used as a filtering factor.
- Boys consume an average of 362 kcals from added sugars compared with 282 kcals for girls.
- As children get older, they consume more sugars. Kids in the 12-19 age demographic consume 2x the amount of sugar that preschoolers consume.
- Boys consume an average of 16.3% of their calories from added sugars, while girls consume an average of 15.5%.
- Non-Hispanic white children and adolescents consume a larger percent of their calories from added sugars than do Mexican-American children and adolescents.
- More added sugars calories are consumed at home rather than away from home. 65% of the total calories that children and adolescents consume from sugar are consumed at home.
We can take away vending machines with carbonated soft drinks from schools. We can put taxes on sugary foods and candy. We can even tell people about the dangers of having too much sugar and the diseases that these eating habits can cause and it won’t do any good. The majority of sugar calories are coming from home lifestyle and eating habits. This means households need to make changes in order to reduce their sugar consumption. If preschoolers only consume about 210 kcals of sugar per day because parents are concerned about their health, then why doesn’t that translate into the teen years too?
How Have Sugar Consumption Habits Changed?
- In 1822, the average American consumed the amount of sugar in a 12 ounce soda once every 5 days. Now it takes just 7 hours to eat the same amount of sugar.
- Except for brief dips in average sugar consumption during WWII and the Civil War, average sugar consumption has increased annually.
- Using the same eating trends of the past 200 years, by the year 2606, the entire American diet will be based on sugar.
- In 1999, the average American ate over 107 pounds of sugar over the course of the year.
- At 3 pounds of sugar per day, the average American will consume over 3,500 pounds of sugar during their lifetime.
- Although the daily recommended intake of sugar is 9.5 teaspoons, the average adult eats 22 teaspoons of sugar every day.
Sugar isn’t necessarily killing us since average life spans are longer than they were in the 19th century. One has to wonder, however, how much longer the average life span might be if sugar consumption levels were similar to the 19th century levels. What could modern medicine do for us if there wasn’t sugar trying to decay us from the inside out?
Some Dietary Habits Contribute To Sugar Consumption
- The average carbonated soft drink contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.
- Although more than 60% of Americans are actively avoiding carbonated sodas, the average person is still going to consume 53 gallons of soda throughout the year.
- In the American diet, the average person has an extra 500 calories they eat every day because of the sugar they eat.
- Up to 40% of US healthcare expenses are directly associated with an over consumption of sugar.
- More than $1 trillion is spent to combat the effects of having too much sugar in one’s diet.
- According to a United Health Foundation study, 9 of the 10 least healthy states in the nation also have 9 of the 10 worst obesity rates.
- A recent report by the American Society of Clinical Oncology predicts that in just 16 years, cancer will be the leading cause of death in the US, surpassing heart disease, because of sugar and processed food consumption.
- $500 million. That’s the amount of advertising revenue that is directed toward children 2-17 to get them to consume sugary beverages.
Since a majority of sugar consumption is happening at home, it is up to every household to actively change how they approach sugar. There are plenty of ways to limit sugar consumption. Instead of drinking soda, drink carbonated water instead that has no sugar and no calories, yet still simulates drinking soda. Eat fresh, organic foods whenever possible. Without sugar, cancer cells do not thrive as they do when there is excess sugar. Cutting back also lessens the risks of diabetes, heart disease, and weight related issues. The facts are clear: sugar is a killer. The good news is that we can do something about it.