Sugar, Sugar Everywhere!

by Linda Miner RNC, CHN, CMTA

groups of kids eating ice creamWhen I was a young girl, I can only remember one boy in elementary school who was overweight. Actually he was obese. Poor Robert, he really stuck out because it was just so unusual. I remember feeling really sorry for him and wondering why he was fat when no one else was.

I have often thought of him and wondered if he grew up to be an obese adult as well. Odds are he did. Statistics tell us that obese children become obese adults. And even adults who overcome their childhood obesity face a lifetime of fighting their food demons.

The Center for Disease Control, in their February 2009 report on Obesity indicates that 16% of US children are obese and a total of 72 million adults. How did we go from having one child in an entire school being overweight to having 1 in 6 children obese? What is causing this to happen to our children and what can we do about it? The over abundance of sugar in our diet is one of the worst culprits. Sugar that cannot be used up by the body as energy turns into fat -- hence the obesity. Here are some numbers to consider.

  • The average American eats 142 pounds of sugar per year (2003)
  • The average American drinks 46 gallons of soda per year (2003)
  • A 16oz Coca-Cola™ has 10 teaspoons of sugar (40g)
  • A 16oz Starbucks™ Caramel Frappuccino has 12 teaspoons of sugar (48g)
  • A McDonald's™ Big Mac™ has just over 3 teaspoons of sugar (13g)
  • A McDonald's™ Snack Size Fruit & Walnut Salad has over 6 teaspoons of sugar (25g)
  • A Burger King™ Whopper™ with Cheese has just over 3 teaspoons of sugar (13g)
  • 1 cup of Catsup (Ketchup) has 16 teaspoons of sugar (48g)
  • 1 Slice of Domino's™ 14” Cheese Pizza has 1 teaspoon of sugar (4g)
  • Denny's™ "Slam Dribbler's" from the Kid's Menu has over 10 teaspoons of sugar (41g)
  • 1 Classic Cinnabon™ roll has almost 14 teaspoons of sugar (55g)
  • 1 cup of Baskin-Robbins™ Chocolate Ice Cream has 15½ teaspoons of sugar (62g)
  • A 12 oz Slurpee™ has 12 teaspoons of sugar (48g).

It is absolutely vital that we try to reign in this over consumption. Food manufacturers know that sugar sells so, I encourage you to start reading nutrition labels. Sugar is listed under Carbohydrates on the nutrition label and 4 grams (g) of sugar equals 1 teaspoon. Also read the ingredient lists carefully and try to choose products that only use sugars from the "Good Sugars" list below or, better yet, none at all.

GOOD Sugars:
  • Brown sugar
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Turbinado sugar
BAD Sugars:
  • Corn sweeteners
  • Corn syrup
  • Confectioner's sugar
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Table sugar

Food labeling can be very deceiving. The serving size is often smaller than you think and may only represent a small portion of the package. You may think it's "low calorie" or "low sugar" but check to see the actual serving size to know what you are really getting. Here are a few terms defined:

Label Term Definition
Calorie Free less than 5 calories per serving
Sugar Free less than 0.5 grams sugars per serving
Reduced or less sugar 25% less sugar per serving as compared to the standard serving size of the traditional food
No added sugars/no sugar no sugars added during processing or packing including ingredients that contain sugar such as juice or dried fruit.

Adding fresh, whole foods from nature to your diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts, and eliminating processed, refined and "fast" foods from your diet automatically reduces your intake of sugar.

Linda Miner is a Registered Nutritionist specializing in Metabolic Typing. Linda works with clients to help them restore their health by re-establishing balance in the body. Through one-on-one coaching and an individualized food plan based on your unique characteristics, Linda can help you achieve Optimal Health. If you are looking for a plan that is as unique as you are, then choose Linda Miner to be your Wellness Guide. To find out and learn more, visit her website, MyHealthyBalance.

Copyright © Linda Miner. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.