Fascinating chart shows how sugar in US foods has DROPPED over the past 25 years – despite fearmongering
The amount of sugar in some of our favorite foods has dropped so much, it’s now at the same level as the 1970s, according to an official report from the US Department of Agriculture.
While the numbers aren’t a direct reflection of the amount of sugar Americans consume, they do indicate how much of the sweet stuff we get in processed foods.
The report, which details how much sugar is sent to food manufacturers for use, attributes the drop to ‘changing consumer preferences’, which have caused manufacturers to revamp their recipes.
Eating too much sugar is a leading risk factor for tooth decay, as well as obesity which is linked to a host of diseases including obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The ingredient has become a villain in recent years, with leading global health officials labeling it the main driver of America’s obesity crisis. Dr. Robert Lustig, an influential neuroendocrinologist from the University of California, San Francisco, labeled it “a poison.”
But the latest data from the USDA suggests that sugar may not play such a significant role in America’s obesity epidemic, which affects nearly four in 10 Americans.
The total amount of sugar supplied to food and beverage manufacturers is close to 1970s levels. Yet millions of Americans still consume about 300 percent of the recommended amount of sugar
The USDA report indicates that the overall amount of all types of sweeteners used by American food manufacturers decreased by 17 percent between 1999 and 2021.
The availability of all sugars has declined sharply since 1999, eventually falling to a level not seen since the 1970s.
The USDA said the overall decline was driven by “a reduction in the availability” of all different types of sugars used by manufacturers.
These include high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, dextrose and table sugar, also known as refined sugar.
The availability of table sugar began to increase again in 2010, surpassing corn sweeteners in 2011.
USDA said: ‘Shifting preferences among consumers and food manufacturers, high corn prices and competition from refined cane and beet sugars and other caloric sweeteners have contributed to this decline.’
Katie Lopez, a registered dietitian and diabetes specialist in New Hampshire, said, “I believe the decline in HFCS consumption is largely due to a trend and preference for diet soda over sugar-sweetened soda.”
Meanwhile, table sugar is processed from sugar cane or sugar beet.
Natural and added sugars are metabolized in the body in the same way. But unlike naturally occurring sugar, such as fructose in fruit, which comes with fiber that takes longer to digest, added sugars break down quickly, causing insulin and blood sugar levels to spike.
Highly processed foods are packed with refined sugars, which come at a high cost to one’s health.
A comprehensive meta-analysis from more than 8,600 studies published last year found that added sugar is associated with significantly higher odds of 45 negative health outcomes, including diabetes, gout, obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, cancer, asthma, tooth decay, depression and early death.
Another study on the effects of too much sugar was done by Oxford University researchers who tracked the eating habits of 116,000 people for up to 15 years and looked at whether they were hospitalized or died.
The study population who ate mostly foods with processed sugars, including soft drinks, fruit juice and table sugar, while avoiding high-fat cheese and butter, were four percent more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease in mid-life.
However, scientists say that the increased risk of health damage most likely lies in the fact that sugary foods are high in calories and hyperpalatable, leading to overeating and weight gain.
Overall, the total availability of sugar to be used by food manufacturers remains high and ultra-processed foods are as popular as ever.
The average American eats about 68 grams, or 17 teaspoons, of sugar per day. That’s about it 300 percent the recommended amount.
But there is good news. The consumption of added sugar has been declining for about 20 years, according to the Sugar Associationa trade group for the sugar industry.
In the two decades since the year 2000, individuals across different age groups have shown a marked reduction in their consumption of added sugars, with average daily intakes decreasing by 30 percent.
Average sugar intake fell from just over 24 teaspoons to around 17 teaspoon equivalents per day, reflecting a significant shift in dietary habits.