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Americans Are Urged to Cut Sugar Intake

Experts recommend far fewer teaspoons a day than average person now consumes

MONDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Most American women should not consume more than 100 calories of added sugar a day, while men should limit their intake to no more than 150 calories, according to a new recommendation from the American Heart Association.

"Added sugar" refers to sugars added to foods during processing, during cooking or when a food is consumed.

The recommendation works out to about six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and about nine teaspoons for men. In the United States, people take in more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar (355 calories) on average, each day, according to the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Excess intake of added sugars has been linked to numerous health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The Heart Association said that soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the major source of added sugar in Americans' diets. Its new recommendations are in a scientific statement issued Aug. 24.

One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about eight teaspoons of sugar and 130 calories, noted the statement's lead author, Rachel K. Johnson, associate provost and a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

"Sugar has no nutritional value other than to provide calories," Johnson said in a news release from the Heart Association. "Consuming foods and beverages with excessive amounts of added sugars displaces more nutritious foods and beverages for many people."

The statement, published in the Aug. 24 issue of Circulation, also recommends that added sugars should account for no more than half of a person's daily discretionary calorie allowance.

People should eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish, the association says.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers healthy eating advice.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Aug. 24, 2009

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