The average American ingests 34 spoonfuls of added sugar a day.
That’s 12,480 teaspoons a year, or a whopping 130 pounds.
Experts say the presence of sugar — and high fructose corn syrup — in many foods leads to the excessive consumption that causes serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Below are some tips from ABC News Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser for how you can reduce sugar in your daily diet:
“If you’re going to cut out one item from your diet, it should be sugary drinks,” Besser says. “This is sodas and sports drinks, but I would add to that fruit juices. As far as I’m concerned, giving a child fruit juice is not that different in terms of sugar than soda.”
“A lot comes down to reading labels. There are a lot of places that sugar hides.”
Besser adds that just like salt, sugar can “sneak” into a number of foods — and the only way to find it is to read the nutrition labels.
“A great example is ketchup,” he says. “If you put one tablespoon of ketchup on your fries, there’s one teaspoon of sugar in there. So you might just want to go the British way and go with a bit of vinegar instead.”
Besser says that scrutinizing options considered to be “healthier” is also important.
“Sugar-sweetened cereals, everyone knows about that. But don’t forget about granola. While this is healthier than a lot of the sugar-sweetened cereals because of the whole grains and the fiber, there’s a lot of sugar in there,” he says.
“When you are dealing with children, clearly diet soda does not provide the same sugar load as regular soda, but even diet sodas tend to encourage a taste for sweetness,” he says.
It’s much better to get young children used to drinks that are not so sweet so they are used to getting the fluids they need without the sugar they don’t.
“What we have at home is a soda machine, and we drink seltzer. We’ve all grown to like the taste of bubbly water,” he adds.