Added Sugar Is Probably Killing You


Added Sugar Is Probably Killing You

Americans consume dangerous quantities of sugar every day, and according The American Heart Association,  it’s increasing their risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD). While the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to less than 100 to 150 calories daily, most U.S. adults consume two to three times as much—usually in the form of refined sugars and corn syrups added to processed foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages and baked goods.


The Study

In a recent study, Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined national health survey data in search of a connection between added sugar consumption and CVD risk factors. In the process, they determined that 71.4 percent of adults consume 10 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar. Ten percent consume 25 percent or more of their daily calories in added sugar. This means that if subjects are consuming 2,000 calories each day, 500 of those are in the form of added sugar. That’s equivalent to 31 teaspoons of the sweet stuff.

The researchers found the connection they were looking for, as the data showed a direct correlation between risk of death from CVD and percentage of added sugar calories in subjects’ diets. In fact, as few as seven servings of sugar-sweetened beverages each week doubled a subject’s risk of CVD death.


The Guidelines

Recommendations for added sugar consumption vary. The American Heart Association suggests women limit their intake of added sugars to 100 calories a day. Men can have 150 calories each day from added sugars. That’s equivalent to six and nine teaspoons respectively. The World Health Organization is a bit more generous to those with a sweet tooth. They advise that no more than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from added sugars. If you’re on a 1,500-calorie diet that means limiting your consumption to 150 sugar calories—about that found in one 12-ounce sugar-sweetened soda.


Reducing Your Added Sugar Consumption

The first step for reducing your consumption of added sugars is to read the labels on any processed foods you eat—and that includes everything from condiments to canned soups to cookies to lunch meats. Keep in mind, sugar has many names. You’ll want to limit your use of foods that include maltose, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, corn sweetener, raw sugar or fruit juice concentrates in their list of ingredients. You’ll also want to consider the total grams of sugar contained in one serving. Four grams is equivalent to one teaspoon.

Once you’ve learned to identify sugar by its many names, and calculate the number of teaspoons a serving contains, do the following to reduce the number of sugar calories you ingest each day:

  • Whenever possible, limit the number of processed foods you eat, especially those that are high in sugar such as baked goods and desserts, candy, soda and fruit juice drinks.
  • When you must consume processed foods, choose a brand with lower added sugar.
  • When cooking or baking, reduce the quantity of sugar in your recipe by half or replace it with an artificial sweetener. You can substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in many recipes.
  • Swap sugar-sweetened sodas for low-calorie or sugar-free drinks.
  • For breakfast, try unsweetened cereal, oatmeal and yogurt with fresh fruit or fruit canned in water. Avoid fruit canned or frozen in syrup.


Cardiovascular disease—also known as heart disease—is the leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the CDC. About 600,000 people die of CVD every year. While the study cited above found a direct correlation between excessive added sugar consumption and the risk factors for heart disease, sugar contributes to other health issues—like poor nutrition and tooth decay—as well. Think about the dangers before you take a bite of your next donut or sip of sugar-sweetened soda—it might (eventually) kill you.

Take the Guesswork Out of Choosing a New Healthcare Plan

Take the Guesswork Out of Choosing a New Healthcare Plan

Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Today he might add “health insurance confusion” to his list of certainties, for despite the government’s best reform efforts, choosing a new healthcare plan is still proving to be a difficult process for many. While monthly premium and plan deductible are often top-of-mind considerations, consumers should give other less obvious details equal thought when making a selection. If you are considering new insurance coverage, scrutinize the following particulars and take the guesswork out of enrolling in the right plan for your situation.


Your Prescription Drugs

Health insurance plans cover prescriptions in different ways. While some may charge you a fixed amount (or co-pay) for a prescribed medication, others will ask you to pay a portion of the drug’s cost in the form of co-insurance. Brand name medications may be covered (usually at a higher cost) through some plans and not at all under others. And if you purchase lower cost coverage, you may have to satisfy a prescription drug deductible before you receive any medication benefits at all.

If you regularly take medications, verifying coverage under the programs you are considering is a worthwhile step. Contact a plan pharmacist and provide him with a list of the drugs and dosages. Then look for an insurance product that covers the medications you need.


Your Doctors and Specialists

Many insurers reduced the number of doctors within their new healthcare plan networks. Before you select coverage, you’ll want to make sure your doctors—and any specialists you regularly see—are part of that plan’s network. You can do this by visiting the insurer’s website and searching for doctors within the program you are considering. You can also call the offices of your medical professionals and ask if they accept a particular plan.

Be specific when making enquiries. While a doctor may be part of the “Preferred Platinum Plan” network under Insurance XYZ, he may not be included in the network for XYZ’s “Premier Gold Plan.” Additionally, a doctor with multiple office locations may be in-network at some and out of network at others.


Doctors and Specialists in General

Maybe you don’t currently have a preferred doctor or see any specialists. You should still examine the number of professionals within each plan network. If you choose a health insurer with a small network—and very few doctors or specialists—you will find yourself waiting longer to schedule appointments. Instead, look for a program that has a larger number of providers. And remember: inclusion on the network list doesn’t necessarily mean a doctor is accepting new patients. You may want to call a few of the professionals to verify that they will.



Health insurance plans also have network hospitals. You’ll pay less if you go to one in-network and more if you receive treatment out of network. Because time is of the essence in the case of an emergency, you may want to consider the location of in-network hospitals when selecting insurance coverage. Hospitals near your home or place of business are ideal; those further away are not.

Cost is also a factor. Some plans will charge you daily in-patient co-pays, while others will ask you to pay co-insurance towards the room charge. To determine which deal is better, you may want to call a network hospital and ask about room rates.

If you’d prefer to choose your next health insurance program with the assistance of a professional, consider contacting your insurance broker or agent.