Sugar’s Sour Side Effects

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “the average adult in the United States takes in 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, or a whopping 150 pounds a year, while teens pile in 34 teaspoons a day.”

Posted on | Jodi Sawyer, RN | Comments ()

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “the average adult in the United States takes in 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, or a whopping 150 pounds a year, while teens pile in 34 teaspoons a day.”


To put things into perspective, we are eating two to four times the amount of sugar that we should be eating. The recommended amount is only 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women and only 9 teaspoons for men.

I was pretty shocked at how much sugar the average American consumes each day. However, when I did my research about how much added sugar we have in our foods, it made sense to me. So much of our foods in America are processed and sugar is added to everything. I guess it’s pretty easy to understand why we have become a nation of sugar addicts.

Sugar is a carbohydrate, but there is a difference in the types of sugars that we eat. Sucrose is probably the most recognizable sugar because it’s just plain table sugar. Simple sugars, on the other hand, are monosaccharides found in plants, fruits and dairy products. 

Sugar can be a wonderful source of energy for people when it is consumed in moderation. What’s important is to minimize your consumption of refined or processed sugars. There is no nutritional value in refined sugar. Sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets and, when it is processed, all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals are stripped and it then becomes 100% sucrose, or table sugar. There is no nutritional value and it has a high glycemic index. It is the glycemic index in foods that cause your blood sugar to rise. The higher the glycemic index, the higher your blood sugar will rise.

In fact, it has been published by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) that there is an association between eating high amounts of sugar and higher cholesterol levels and diabetes. There is no proof that sugar “causes” these conditions, but there is a definite link.  

In addition, not only can high blood sugar levels contribute to health problems such as weight gain, higher cholesterol levels, and diabetes, but it can also accelerate the aging of your skin.

Researchers in the Netherlands and England evaluated the facial photos of 602 volunteers. After accounting for “actual age, smoking, weight, body-mass index, sun damage, and insulin function, people with the highest blood sugar appeared older than those with the lowest levels.” Studies have also shown that higher blood sugar levels can destroy the skin’s collagen and elastin. So, if I haven’t gotten your attention about the health effects of eating too much sugar, then I hope that I’ve gotten your attention about its aging effects. 

When it comes to sugar, it’s important to know what you are putting into your body. Too much of anything is not a good thing. When Americans are eating two to four times the amount of the daily recommended serving of sugar, then it’s time to reevaluate what and how much we are eating. The key is sugar in moderation. Your body will thank you for monitoring your consumption of sugar, and you will thank your body for feeling good! It’s a win-win!

Blog written by Jodi Sawyer, RN
Jodi Sawyer has worked as a registered nurse for over 14 years and was one of the first RNs in Southern California to work with...