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Our addiction to sugar in the United States has become more and more talked about in the media.  When I looked into the statistics I was shocked!

What is recommended?

The American Heart Association currently recommends for women, no more than 100 calories from sugar and for men, it is 150 per day.  That is equal to 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.  The AHA also says that children ages 2-18 should limit their sugar to no more than 3 teaspoons per day.

What does that mean for me?

I came to a realization one day as I read a 4 oz cup of whole milk vanilla yogurt contained 6 teaspoons of sugar per serving!  That is twice the amount recommended daily for children in that one little yogurt.  That didn’t account for the sugar in the pancakes, the maple syrup on top, the apple juice and the blueberries that were also on our 5 year olds breakfast plate.

Come to think of it, I had a difficult time watching the kids next to us at dinner scarf down giant cotton candy cones followed by an ice cream sundae smothered in sugar and candy.  The parents were actually laughing at the frenzy whipped children who had lost their minds and couldn’t sit still.  I can see how this can be funny (sort of), but mainly I just thought about how tragic it was and that something terribly wrong is happening within our society. Our addiction to sugar is obvious, isn’t it?

Hidden sugar is everywhere

It’s difficult to eat anything that has been processed that doesn’t contain sugar in one form or another.  How do you and your families handle sugar?  It’s a good and fair question.

In my opinion, the scary truth is that the amount of sugar in all of our diets is a serious crisis of addiction.  The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey said that children as young as 1 to 3 years old were already exceeding the daily recommendations and typically consuming 12 teaspoons of sugar a day! By the time the children are between 4 and 8 years of age, the sugar consumption skyrockets to an average of 21 teaspoons a day!

The National Cancer Institute found that 14-18-year-olds consume the most added sugar on a daily basis – averaging 34.3 teaspoons a day!

Is this considered child abuse?

Some may say as adults and parents, this might be an example of child abuse.  Maybe.  I understand that we just want to make our little babies happy, but if it’s slowly reducing their life span and we know it – what do we call this?  When you know that it is this unhealthy, how do you reconcile that from within?

According to the AHA, numerous studies have linked high-sugar diets to a number of health issues.  These included obesity, increased risks for high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.  It was once thought that a diet high in fat and cholesterol were the main cause of heart disease and stroke, but it is now known that sugar is the real culprit.

Soft drinks and sweetened beverages are the number-one cause of health issues in Americans’ diets, with one can of soda containing 8 teaspoons and almost 130 calories of added sugar.

Here are some helpful tips to reduce some sugars:

  • Offering naturally sweet and healthy snacks like real fruit.
  • Replacing soda and sweetened beverages with low-fat milk (whole milk for children under 2) or water.
  • Offering small servings of 100 percent fruit juice or watered down juice.

Although 100 percent fruit juice does have some health benefits, it is important to note that while it doesn’t have any added sugar, the natural sugars it contains still make it a high-calorie drink. Revolution Wellness recommends limiting juice intake to 3-5 oz fl oz for children under 7, and 6–8 fl oz for older children and teens.

Naturally sweet snacks are a healthy alternative.

This is because fructose usually packs enough of a punch to satisfy a sweet craving. If your child has a soft spot for sweet treats, try offering one of the following naturally sweet and healthy snacks:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Frozen grapes or any other frozen fruit
  • Homemade fruit smoothie with added spinach
  • Dried fruit
  • Apple slices and almond butter
  • Homemade granola

It seems impossible to completely cut out sugar.

I’m sure it might feel overwhelming. Choosing healthier alternatives isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Also, make sure high-sugar foods are not taking the place of foods with essential nutrients.

And, of course, be a role model for your child. Leading a healthy lifestyle yourself is a surefire way to help your child grow up to do the same.  The addiction to sugar needs to be taken seriously for yourself and your family.

Learn more about our Nutrition Coaching

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