Hot off the press!! In the first systematic review of available evidence commissioned by the World Health Organization, researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand found in a review of studies that increased consumption of "free sugars" including additives to foods and those naturally found in honey, syrups, and fruit juices let to an average gain of between 1.6 and 1.8 pounds in body weight in adults while people who cut back on sugar lost about the same amount. The researchers looked at 15,000 studies on sugar and obesity at the request of the WHO and narrowed down the list to about 70 that strictly measured the correlation between sugar consumption and weight. The study authors said that the findings confirm the WHO's guideline of keeping sugar intake at 10% or below of daily calories. Walter Willett, a
professor at Harvard and author of an editorial that accompanied the study" said "What's emerged most clearly is that sugar in the form of water, sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks is especially problematic." He also said that because it is easier to drink than eat "It's almost almost impossible to eat 17 teaspoons of sugar, but it's very easy to drink a 20 ounce soda with 17 teaspoons of sugar."
Digging a little deeper into this topic, the American Heart Association has recommended guidelines for limiting the amount of added sugars. The AHA defines "added sugars" as "any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation (such as putting sugar in your coffee or adding sugar to your cereal)." They (added sugars) can include natural sugars such as white sugar, brown sugar, and honey as well as chemically manufactured sweeteners like HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Distinguishing added sugars from naturally occurring sugars - those found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose), the AHA recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories of added sugars a day (about 6 teaspoons) and 150 calories a day for men (about 9 teaspoons). As a comparison to what what most Americans eat - most Americans get more than 22 teaspoons or 355 calories of added sugar a day.
Below are some of the AHA's simple "It's Not Rocket Science" tips to reduce sugar in your diet:
1. Remove sugar (white and brown), syrup, honey and molasses from the table - out of sight, out of mind.
2. Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly like cereal, pancakes, coffee or tea. Start by using half as much sugar and wean down from there or use an artificial sweetener.
3. Buy sugar free or low calorie beverages.
4. Buy fresh fruits or fruits canned in water or natural juice - not canned in SYRUP.
5. Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, add fresh fruit or dried fruit.
6. When baking cookies, brownies, or cakes - cut the sugar that is called for by one third to one half.
7. Instead of adding sugar in recipes, try adding extracts like almond, vanilla, orange or lemon.
8. Enhance foods with spices instead of sugar; try ginger, allspice, cinnamon, or nutmeg.
9. Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in recipes.