Too sweet: A look at added sugar consumption

While it may be common knowledge that added sugars are far from good for you, it can be easy to forget how fast they add up. In order to see just how fast, I tracked my added sugar intake for an entire day — and these are the results.

All sugar, whether added or not, is a simple carbohydrate source for the body. Some sugars naturally occur in food, like the sugar in fruit, while others are added during the processing of certain foods.

Although sugar has its place in a healthy diet, too much added sugar has been linked to a variety of issues ranging from heart disease to tooth decay. Aside fromsugarthat, sugar isn’t particularly nutritious compared to other vitamins and minerals.

In order to demonstrate this, I recorded my intake of added sugars throughout one whole day. All numbers are estimates, but still paint a fairly accurate picture of what my added sugar consumption looks like.

I’ll be comparing my day to the standards set by the American Heart Association, who set their recommendation at 36 grams of added sugar per day for men and 24 grams for women. However, I made a point of not checking these guidelines prior to recording my sugar intake in order to provide an accurate representation of my diet.

To begin my day, I woke up and immediately noticed I had slept in, a common experience among us nightowl students. Rather than miss my first class by taking the time to make breakfast, I grabbed an energy drink and rushed to my geology class.

Checking the label on the back of the can as I sat in geology class, I noted that it contained 55  grams of sugar. If you noticed that the first thing I consumed that day was already 21 grams over the guideline, you’d be correct.

After my first class of the day, I walked home to eat the lunch provided by my dormitory. It consisted of tortilla chips, mashed potatoes and meatballs, all of which have pretty much no added sugar due to them being largely carbohydrate or protein based.

However I also grabbed a cup of fruit juice, weighing in at 19 grams of sugar, tapioca pudding containing 17 grams of sugar and had two teaspoons of sugar in my coffee, each of which came in at four grams of sugar.  My lunch had a total 44 grams of added sugars, bringing my running total to 101 grams by noon.

To conclude the day, my supper consisted of mostly Asian food, as we were celebrating Chinese New Year according to the lunar calendar. This meal had spring rolls at around one gram of added sugar, stir fry that was largely free of added sugar, a vanilla custard tart with 15 grams of added sugar, enough plum sauce to add 10 grams of sugar to the total and some oranges in light syrup because I was feeling the need to at least be a little healthy.

Despite my attempt at being healthy by taking oranges instead of a larger dessert, they still came in at 25 grams. This brought my total up to 171 grams of sugar throughout my meals and then to 185 grams with the inclusion of the four Lifesavers I ate throughout the day.

While I can’t be considered to have the healthiest lifestyle, I wouldn’t say that these types of habits are uncommon among students.This means that throughout what I would call a fairly average day, I consumed 508 per cent of the daily recommended intake of added sugars as prescribed by the AHA.

In seeing just how easy it is to consume what is considered to be an unhealthy amount of sugar, it causes us to really rethink what we’re putting into our bodies. Stay tuned for another article on how to reduce your added sugar consumption!

Image: Laura Underwood / Layout Manger