What is sugar?

Sugar in food and drinks can be found naturally or added.

  • Natural sugars are found in foods such as fruit and milk.  
  • Added sugars are put into foods when they are processed.  Soft drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, flavored yogurt, and many cereals have added sugars.

What is the impact of sugar on our bodies?

Sugar gives us energy but no vitamins or minerals. Adding sugar to nutritious foods may help us eat more of them. Added sugars can be harmful to our bodies and are linked to tooth decay and weight gain.

How much sugar should we have?

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the World Health Organization suggest limiting added sugars to less than 10 percent of calories per day for adults and children.  For a 10 year old child, that is around one cup of juice and one small cookie per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that sugar should be consumed “in small amounts”.  The American Heart Association suggests no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons of sugar per day for men.

Our bodies do not need added sugar but enjoying some is okay.

How can we limit sugar intake?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers the following tips:

  • Read ingredients on the food label – limit foods with added sugars
  • Eat smaller dessert portions
  • Choose drinks such as water, low-fat or fat-free milk and 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice instead of  more sugary beverages
  • Choose snacks with no added sugar such as plain yogurt with berries or pears

What do you think?

  1. What are some healthy snacks that have no added sugar?
  2. What important nutrients might children be missing if they eat and drink more sugar than is recommended?


2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, World Health Organization

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