Americans Say: We Are Trying to Cut Our Sugar Habit
A new Reuter’s poll of 1,883 adults living in the U.S., conducted over a six day period, found that 58% of those polled said they had tried to limit their sugar intake in the prior 30 days. That specific finding was higher than the percentage of the subjects who reported trying to reduce daily calories, daily sodium, daily cholesterol or daily consumption of carbohydrates. Of the total group of subjects, 39% said they had not tried to limit sugar over the prior 30 day period.
Recent media bulletins have suggested how important it is for Americans to reduce their overall sugar intake. Messaging has emphasized reading labels to see how much added sugar per serving is in the processed foods you eat. Recommendations have suggested emphasizing whole foods in lieu of processed foods. The New Dietary Guidelines have suggested that kids and adults limit daily sugar intake to 10% or less of overall calories per day.
Teens currently consume about 17% of total daily calories in the form of added sugars. So a reduction to 10% for that age group would be significant. Overall, this new recommendation would cut sugar intake for Americans by about one third. The survey also showed that 50% of those surveyed had tried to cut their daily calories, 48% had tried to cut sodium, 46% had tried to cut saturated and trans fats, 43% had tried to cut cholesterol and 40% had tried to limit their intake of carbohydrates.
The survey focused on efforts to cut down on sugar. It did not try to assess “success in achieving the goal.” Based on the timing of the poll, New Year’s Resolutions may have played a role in motivation, but it’s also known that most resolutions don’t last. Researchers do feel that the poll findings show that people are listening to public health messaging highlighting the dangers of high sugar consumption. And the subjects clearly understood the link between obesity and sugar consumption.
You’d have to live in a bubble to not know that foods like soda and candy, and more recently cereals, pasta sauces, breads and highly processed foods are sources of significant levels of added sugars.
The search term “added sugar” skews high on Google Trends, and online searches specifically for “is sugar bad?” ranked higher than searches for cholesterol, sodium, or fat information. Food companies do seem to be responding to public health concerns and consumer interest, offering lower sugar options for many of their popular products. In response to consumer polls, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) cut sugar and carbohydrates in over 5500 products between 2002 and 2013.
It’s important to learn which foods notoriously contain added sugars. Label reading can help. Look for the “sugar amount per serving” and also examine the ingredients label to see how many times some form of sugar appears. When sugar appears at the beginning of the ingredients list, it means a significant amount of sugar is present in the food. High sugar foods include: Syrups, soda, candy, cookies, cakes, jams and spreads, cereals (cereal bars), canned fruit in syrup and sauces (barbecue and tomato), juices, puddings, condiments like ketchup, muffin and cake mixes, flavored milks, energy drinks and teas, yogurt, frozen meals, frozen breakfast foods, frozen desserts.
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