Plenty has been made over the negative impact sugar can have on people’s health. And the good news is that Americans have made some significant strides in reducing our sugar consumption over the past 15 years. But the amount of sugar the average person in the US consumes per day remains alarmingly high, revealing just how far down into the depths of sweetener excess our country had descended in the past.
According to a recent article from the Pew Research Center looking into how American diets have changed over the decades, as of 2014, the average American still consumed 77.3 pounds of “added caloric sweeteners” annually. That number includes things such as refined sugar and corn-derived sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup, but does not include non-caloric sweeteners like aspartame and stevia. Though the 2014 statistic is down from the all-time high of 90.2 pounds Americans consumed in 1999, it’s still significantly higher than the approximately 20 pounds per year for women and 30 pounds per year for men suggested by the World Health Organization.
If you have trouble wrapping your head around just how much sugar 77.3 pounds is, the daily breakdowns help put that number in perspective. 77.3 pounds per year is about 100 grams per day: The equivalent of about 2.5 cans of Coca-Cola, nearly 40 Hershey kisses or just over 6 Twinkies. It’s the kind of thing that wouldn’t be so terrible if you let loose on one day – but we’re talking about Americans consuming that much sugar every single day on average. It’s near the point where we might as well celebrate Halloween 365 days a year.
As Pew also points out, one of the biggest changes in sweetener consumption over the decades has been the switch from refined sugar to other types of caloric sweeteners. “While most of the sweetener consumed in 1970 was refined sugar, the market is now almost evenly split between sugar and corn-derived sweeteners, such as high-fructose corn syrup,” the article states.
Whether we can return our sugar consumption back to how it was in the 1970s is yet to be seen, but if American can restore the Star Wars franchise back to its glory days, we can do the same with our diets as well. Right?