Part 1: Sugary Drinks and Your Health
Written By: Irene Castillo, MPH, RDN
Hey, Sugarbugs! Did you know sugary beverages are one of the largest sources of calories in your diet? They’re hard to avoid. Just look at any label and you might find added sugar labeled as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, agave nectar, barley malt syrup, dehydrated cane juice, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, or honey. Wow! That’s a lot and the word “sugar” isn’t even in their names! So, where can you find these sneaky sugars? They’re in sodas, fruit drinks, lemonade, sports drinks, specialty coffee drinks, and smoothies with sherbet.
Something else to consider – sugar intake. Did you know you should aim to keep your intake of added sugars to less than 10% of your total daily calories? You’ve definitely heard about calories, but Sugarbug is here to give you a simple breakdown on them. First, your calorie intake varies depending on your age, sex, height, weight, metabolism, and levels of physical activity among other factors. So, your little one is definitely not going to need as many calories as you. The general recommendation is 2,000 calories per day for women and 2,500 calories for men. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that means no more than 200 calories from added sugars a day. Yep, that’s what 10% works out to be!
For a little more fun math, if you want to figure out how many grams of sugar those 200 calories add up to, you simply divide by four. So, for 200 calories, dividing by four gives you 50 grams of added sugar per day. Now here’s the tricky part. When you’re reading a nutrition label, those grams of added sugar can creep up on you. Some drinks deliver way more than the allotted 50 grams in just one bottle!
We hope this is helpful information and a reminder that math can be fun and useful! Until next time, stay sharp, Sugarbugs! Quick, what’s 2+2?
Keep an eye out for the next segment in this blog series: How to Spot the Sugar in Nutrition Labels!
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Get the facts: added sugars and consumption. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/added-sugars.html
2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.
3. American Heart Association. (2019). Understanding ingredients on food labels. Retrieved from: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/understanding-ingredients-on-food-labels
4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. (2020). USDA Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies and USDA Food Patterns Equivalents Database 2017-2018. Retrieved from: https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/beltsville-md-bhnrc/beltsville-human-nutrition-research-center/food-surveys-research-group/
5. National Institutes of Health. (2010). NIH study shows how insulin stimulates fat cells to take in glucose. Retrieved from: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-shows-how-insulin-stimulates-fat-cells-take-glucose
6. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2018). Insulin resistance and prediabetes. Retrieved from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance#insulinresistance
7. Malik, V., Popkin, B., Bray, G., Desprs. J.P., Hu, F. (2010). Sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease risk. Circulation.121(11):1356-1364.
8. Malik, V.S., Hu, F.B. (2015). Fructose and cardiometabolic health: what the evidence from sugar-sweetened beverages tells us. J Am Coll Cardiol. 66(14):1615-1624.
9. Bomback, A., Derebail, V., Shoham, D., et al. (2010) Sugar-sweetened soda consumption, hyperuricemia, and kidney disease. Kidney International. 77(7):609-616.
10. Bernabe, E., Vehkalahti, M.M., Sheiham, A., Aromaa, A., Suominen, A.L. (2014) Sugar-sweetened beverages and dental caries in adults: a 4-year prospective study. J Dent. 42(8):952-958.