It’s easy to see the cost of sugar’s prevalence in our society with our high obesity rates and epidemic of type II diabetes, a disease that is the outcome of repeatedly overdosing on sugar. According to Dr. Robert Lustig of the University of California, there are 600,000 food items in America, and 80% of them have added sugar. The USDA claims that the average American consumes between 152 and 160 pounds of sugar per year. That’s 60 teaspoons of sugar a day. It’s not hard to see how it racks up, when a can of Coke contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar and a tall nonfat Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte with no whip has 9½ teaspoons. When it comes to food, sugar is everywhere: 2 tablespoons of Kraft salad dressing contains 1 teaspoon (and that’s a full 16% of what makes up those 2 tablespoons), Prego pasta sauce contains just under 3 teaspoons per every ½ cup serving, and even every slice of whole-wheat bread generally contains about ½ teaspoon. If it has a nutrition label on it or comes in a package, there’s probably been sugar added to it.
If sugar is indeed an addictive substance as science is proving and it’s stuffed into everything we buy, then it begs the question of regulation. The 2015 Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee recently released new recommendations to limit sugar intake to 10% of daily calories. In a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s equivalent to 13 teaspoons of sugar a day. What they don’t have is recommendations for getting the packaged food industry and the sugar-addicted public on board, and if there’s one thing harder than imposing regulations on a large and powerful industry, it’s trying to keep an addict from getting a fix.