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WI Heart Doc Says Sugar Not So Sweet

September 9, 2009

Madison, WI - Americans are overloading on added sugar and that can have some not-so-sweet implications down the road. The American Heart Association (AHA) has generated a scientific statement that provides specific guidance on limiting the consumption of added sugars. It also provides information about the relationship between excess sugar intake and metabolic abnormalities, adverse health conditions and shortfalls in essential nutrients.

Karen Moncher, a cardiologist at the University of Wisconsin, says the 22 teaspoons of sugar the average American consumes in a day can cause big problems.

"The obesity level has just been skyrocketing, and sadly I have to say that I'm seeing younger and younger people in the clinic as well as in the hospital."

The American Heart Association recommends a diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish. The group also says no more than half of a person's daily discretionary calorie allowance should come from added sugars. Added sugars and solid fats in food, as well as alcoholic beverages, are categorized as discretionary calories.

The average amount of sugar intake is now 22 teaspoons a day, which Moncher says is way up.

"Isn't that amazing - 365 calories! If you look at the numbers over the years, in 1977 you had 235 calories from sugar."

Moncher says ballooning portion sizes also have greatly contributed to the problem.

"We used to all have cans of soda that were 12 ounces, but rarely do you see anyone with a can of soda now. Today we all have our 20-ounce bottles, and that's easily a lot more calories."

Information on cutting sugar intake can be found at www.americanheart.org.

More information is available from Lindsey Scheidell at AHA, 608-931-3931.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI