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US Consumers Eat an Average 460 Calories Added Sugar Daily

By Rosalie Marion Bliss, USDA Agricultural Research Service
February 27, 2006

Dietary professionals and others interested in checking the amount of "added" sugars in foods can now tap a new data resource. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) nutritionists today launched an online table that lets users look up the added sugars, total sugars and carbohydrates in 2,041 common foods listed.

The "special interest table" was produced by researchers in the Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL), one of six units that make up the ARS Beltsville (Md.) Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC). The NDL is headed by nutritionist Joanne Holden. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

U.S. consumers eat about 74 pounds of added sugars per year, according to 1999-2002 survey data analyzed by researchers at the BHNRC's Community Nutrition Research Group. That's about 23 teaspoons of added sugars every day--or 460 calories that supply no additional nutrients.

In the new table, added sugars are defined as those sugars added to foods and beverages during processing or home preparation. The data reported are estimated values based on the added sweeteners listed under "ingredients" on the package labels of processed foods and beverages. Some added sugars listed under ingredients include honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, sucrose, lactose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and malt syrup.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans underscore the importance of consumers' limiting the amount of added sugars in the foods they eat. While foods containing natural sugars, such as fresh fruit and milk, are rich in vitamins and minerals, many foods and beverages that contain high amounts of added sugars may be relatively low in nutrients. This special interest table will help users identify foods that contain high levels of added sugars.

The new table is entitled "USDA Database for the Added Sugars Content of Selected Foods." Entries are listed alphabetically within 23 food groups such as "Baked Products," "Fast Foods" and "Snacks." To download the new special interest table as a PDF or Excel file, go to: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=12107


Rosalie Marion Bliss, USDA Agricultural Research Service. February 27, 2006

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