America’s sweet tooth is coming under fire.

Seem’s that our addiction to sweeteners in our food is on the rise. Before adding that next spoon of sugar into your latte, the cherry sauce on your ham, or downing that next soda, you may want to consider what you are doing to your body.  You are about to consume that next step closer to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay! Put down that sugar-sweetened soft drink and grab a glass of water and check this out.

Faced with mounting evidence about sugar’s harms, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee this month recommended that people in the U.S. limit added sugars to a maximum of 10% of their total daily calories.

The recommendation — from the group responsible for My Plate — will be part of a scientific report submitted in early 2015 to the secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, who will use it to update the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

On average, Americans get about 16% of their daily calories from added sugars, according to the FDA. Earlier this year, the agency proposed changing the Nutrition Facts Label to tease out added sugars from the total sugar content in foods and drinks.

On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, 10% of calories from added sugar represents an amount equal to a dozen teaspoons right out of the sugar bowl — not that people are dumping that much sugar on top of their breakfast cereal or into their lattes.

Sipping Sugar

Why should Americans cut back on sweetened foods and drinks? The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s working group on added sugars says there’s strong scientific evidence that added sugars, especially sugar-sweetened drinks, raise the risks of excess weight and obesity, as well as type 2 diabetes. The group also found “moderate” evidence connecting added sugars to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, along with tooth decay.

The American Heart Association recommends even stricter limits on added sugars — no more than 150 calories a day for men, 100 for women– than the dietary guidelines working group. The main reason for restricting added sugars is because they’re a major contributor to obesity, according to the group’s scientific statement on dietary sugars and heart health.

The Obesity Link

The effect of added sugars on health is a subject of ongoing debate, though. Just a week before the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee met in December, speakers at a conference entitled “Advances & Controversies in Clinical Nutrition,” sponsored by the American Society for Nutrition and the Tufts University School of Medicine, downplayed sugar as a major cause of obesity.

James Rippe, MD, a cardiologist who helped organize and spoke on the panel about sugar and health, acknowledged that “it’s not an unreasonable thing to limit sugar,” because it can cause weight gain.

Craig Amnott

Craig Amnott

A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Dr. Craig Amnott earned his medical degree at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine and is board certified in Family Medicine. Doctor Amnott is licensed to practice both medicine and medical acupuncture in the state of New York.

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