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Play Every Day Blog > Posts > New national Dietary Guidelines set limit on added sugar


January 07
New national Dietary Guidelines set limit on added sugar

For the first time, the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans has set a limit on the amount of added sugar to eat and drink each day for the best health.

The 2015 guidelines recommend that we limit our added sugars to less than 10 percent of the calories we eat and drink each day. Added sugars are sugars, syrups and other sweeteners that are added to foods or drinks when they are processed or prepared. Easy examples are the sugars added to soda, cookies and sweetened breakfast cereals. Added sugars do not include naturally occurring sugars, such as those in plain white milk and whole fruits.
These new guidelines reinforce Play Every Day’s mission to reduce the number of sugary drinks that Alaska children and families consume every day. In Alaska, high consumption of sugary drinks starts at a young age. One out of 5 Alaska parents of elementary-age children serves their children a sugary drink every day, and 2 out of 3 Alaska parents serve their kids sugary drinks one or more times each week, according to a recent state survey of hundreds of Alaska parents. Recent statewide surveys also showed that 42 percent of Alaska high school students and adults consume one or more sugary drinks every day.  
DietaryGuidelines.MyPlateMyWinsTips-1.jpgThe national Dietary Guidelines are revised every five years and issued jointly by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. The new guidelines followed a review of the most current science around nutrition and issued recommendations to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. In Alaska, about 1 out of 3 children is overweight and obese, and 2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese.
The Dietary Guidelines call for a reduction in how much sugar we eat and drink, but it turns out drinks can contribute the most to our daily sugar intake. Sugary drinks are the No. 1 source of added sugar in Americans’ daily diets. There is strong evidence that consuming sugary drinks is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay.
For many Americans, the new daily sugar limit will be a big change to how they eat and drink. The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day – in their sugary drinks, cereals, snack bars, spaghetti sauce, even condiments like ketchup. In order to meet the new daily limit on added sugars, they would need to significantly cut that sugar intake. According to the guidelines, a person eating an average 2,000-calorie daily diet should limit their daily sugar to about 12.5 teaspoons.
What does that look like?
It turns out you can eat — and drink —12 and a half teaspoons of sugar very quickly. A 20-ounce bottle of soda sold on grocery store shelves and in vending machines can have 16 teaspoons of added sugar. Drinking just that one bottle would take you over the daily limit — and that doesn’t even count the rest of the foods and drinks you’ll consume that day. A 16-ounce glass of a powdered orange drink in the morning — a common beverage in Alaska — has about 11 teaspoons of added sugar. Hand a child a sports drink on the soccer field and he’ll drink 9 teaspoons of added sugar in a few big gulps.
Play Every Day’s latest TV public service announcement and poster campaign show how sugar can add up during the day. Drinking a powdered drink for breakfast, a fruit-flavored sugary drink for lunch, a sports drink as a snack, and a can of soda for dinner can add up to 38 teaspoons of sugar from just the drinks alone. That’s more than three times the amount of sugar in the new guidelines’ limit for daily sugar intake.
Added sugars can be tricky to spot because they go by many different names, such as high fructose corn syrup, honey, glucose and sucrose. That’s why it’s important to read the ingredient list on the back of a drink or food container to find all the added sugars. If a sweetener by any name is in the first three ingredients, the food or drink is loaded with added sugars.
To reduce the amount of added sugar you drink every day, choose water or low-fat milk instead of sodas, sports drinks, powdered drinks and other sugary beverages. Make it easier to choose water by carrying a water bottle with you. Pack a water bottle in your child’s backpack or lunch box. Add a bit of flavor to your water by putting slices of lemon or lime or sprigs of mint into your glass.
For more information and tips to choose healthier drinks, visit the Play Every Day website.