What exactly are healthy levels? Well, there is no clear answer. Recommendations for added sugar consumption vary and there is no universally accepted threshold for unhealthy levels. For example, the Institute of Medicine recommends that added sugar make up less than 25 percent of total calories while the World Health Organization recommends less than 10 percent and the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to less than 100 calories daily for women and 150 calories daily for men.
Regardless of which you prefer, for most Americans that still is going to mean 'less', even though added sugar consumption has gone down in the last 8 years. Americans could get by with fewer sugar sweetened juices - no, they are not healthier just because it says 'fruit' on it - less candy, less soda. A can of regular soda contains about 35g of sugar and about 140 calories.
For the study, Quanhe Yang, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues used national health survey data to examine added sugar consumption as a percentage of daily calories and to estimate association between consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD). They found that the average percentage of daily calories from added sugar increased from 15.7 percent in 1988-1994 to 16.8 percent in 1999 to 2004 and decreased to 14.9 percent in 2005-2010.
In 2005-2010, most adults (71.4 percent) consumed 10 percent of more of their calories from added sugar and about 10 percent of adults consumed 25 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.
The authors correlate the risk of death from cardiovascular disease increased with a higher percentage of calories from added sugar. Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (seven servings or more per week) was associated with increased risk of dying from CVD.
“Our results support current recommendations to limit the intake of calories from added sugars in U.S. diets,” the authors conclude.
In a related commentary, Laura A. Schmidt, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.P.H., of the University of California, San Francisco, advocates even more federal laws and regulations. It's no surprise to have an academic, much less a San Francisco academic, lobby for more centralized control of choice, but just use some common sense instead.
Citation: Quanhe Yang PhD, Zefeng Zhang MD, PhD, Edward W. Gregg PhD, W. Dana Flanders MD, ScD, Robert Merritt MA, Frank B. Hu MD, PhD, ' Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults', JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4) doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13563