Between 2018 and 2037, a sugar label would prevent 354,400 cardiovascular disease and 599,300 diabetes mellitus cases, gain 727,000 quality-adjusted life-years, and save $31 billion in net healthcare costs or $61.9 billion in societal costs (incorporating reduced lost productivity and informal care costs). Source
If companies did reformulate their products to have less added sugar, it would result in more than 700,000 fewer cases of cardiovascular disease and almost 1.2 million fewer cases of type 2 diabetes. Pretty impressive right? Sugar is more dangerous than a lot of recreational drugs out there.
From marinara sauce to peanut butter, added sugar can be found in even the most unexpected products. Many people rely on quick, processed foods for meals and snacks. Since these products often contain added sugar, it makes up a large proportion of their daily calorie intake.
In the US, added sugars account for up to 17% of the total calorie intake of adults and up to 14% for children (1). Dietary guidelines suggest limiting calories from added sugar to less than 10% per day (2).
In a study published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. Hu and his colleagues found an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease. Over the course of the 15-year study, people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar.
“Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease,” says Dr. Hu.
How sugar actually affects heart health is not completely understood, but it appears to have several indirect connections. For instance, high amounts of sugar overload the liver. “Your liver metabolizes sugar the same way as alcohol, and converts dietary carbohydrates to fat,” says Dr. Hu. Over time, this can lead to a greater accumulation of fat, which may turn into fatty liver disease, a contributor to diabetes, which raises your risk for heart disease.
Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological pathways to heart disease. Excess consumption of sugar, especially in sugary beverages, also contributes to weight gain by tricking your body into turning off its appetite-control system because liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories from solid foods. This is why it is easier for people to add more calories to their regular diet when consuming sugary beverages.
“The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke,” says Dr. Hu.
Today, the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year. This is equal to 3 pounds (or 6 cups) of sugar consumed in one week! Nutritionists suggest that Americans should get only 10% of their calories from sugar. This equals 13.3 teaspoons of sugar per day (based on 2,000 calories per day).
Basically, Americans are addicted to sugar and it’s not only killing us it’s leading to higher healthcare costs. The sugar lobby spends a lot of money to curtail restrictions on sugar but we can’t ignore the fact unless we educate the public on sugar healthcare costs are going to increase.