# 8 Things We Learned About Sugar

When the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) released their recommendations about sugar intake, we thought they made a lot of sense. After all, the World Health Organization has been recommending a 10% calorie limit on added sugars for over a decade. The DGA committee now recognizes that sugar makes up about 30% of daily calories in our country, so changes are needed to cut down on sugary beverages, snacks, and desserts with added sugars. Treat foods and beverages are no longer treats but daily staples, which in turn is a significant cause of obesity when people are not getting enough physical activity and when high-sugar foods are replacing high-fiber foods that can help people feel more satiated.

Yet if you tell people to keep their sugar intake to 10% of their daily calories, this advice doesn’t necessarily have much real-world meaning.

People would have to do a bit of math to figure out how much sugar that that recommendation is allowing for each day. To calculate it, they would first need to land on a daily calorie intake. A 2,000-calorie-per-day eating pattern is pretty typical, so in our example let’s use that as a base number. 10% of 2,000 calories is 200 calories each day. There’s the maximum in an easier format to apply to day-to-day life.

Of course, some people prefer to calculate their sugar needs in grams. To do that, divide the daily total calories from sugar by 4 (calories per gram). For a 2,000-calorie diet, the max is 50 grams.

Just for kicks, let’s set that out in teaspoons too. There are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. That means that the daily cap is set at roughly 12 teaspoons of added sugars per day.

I hope those mathematical measurements can help your clients apply the DGA’s sugar recommendations to their daily lives. You can find all these measurements in the Sugar Math poster, which is what started this entire mathematical exercise.

Of course, the importance of sugar math isn’t the only thing we learned as we were putting the poster together. Here are the top 8 lessons that really made us think as we created that resource…

1. One 12-ounce soda can have about 40 grams of sugar. That’s almost a full day’s supply of added sugar. Kid-sized sodas at most fast food places are 12 ounces — the same amount as that can of soda!
2. Regular and large sodas at fast food places are usually equivalent to 2 or more cans of soda.
3. Sweetened iced tea contains a surprising amount of sugar, roughly 22 grams per cup. Most bottles contain a couple cups or more, which in turn makes it easy to consume a day’s supply of sugar in one bottle of iced tea.
4. Sweet treats are not only high in sugar but they are also high in calories. The average large cookie contains over 400 calories and a day’s supply of added sugars.
5. Coffee drinks, tea, sodas, snacks, sweetened yogurt, and dessert can easily supply three days or more’s worth of sugar. It all adds up.
6. A surprise to our team was that a can of soda is equivalent to a serving of candy!
7. 50 grams can add up quickly, but if we could get to dinner without putting sweetened beverages in our day, then we had a little of our sugar budget left over for a half cup of frozen yogurt. In a typical day, I used the rest of my budget on a cereal bar and jam for a sandwich. Overall, the guideline helped us lower our calories, especially in beverage calories.
8. It’s a great idea to track what you eat and drink in a day so you can make better choices.

And there you have it! 8 things we learned while putting together the Sugar Math poster. I’m really proud of this poster — it’s a great resource for nutrition and health educators because it lays out key lessons about added sugars in a fun and memorable way.

Want to share these lessons with your clients? From our collection of free printable nutrition education materials comes a new PDF handout all about added sugars!

And here are some other fantastic sugar education resources, straight from the Nutrition Education Store!

\$79.00 \$79.00

\$38.99 \$46.00

\$22.75 \$25.50
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# Easter Candy and Your Health

Easter is the second biggest candy holiday in the United States.* According to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), over 120 million pounds of Easter candy is purchased each year. This includes 16 billion jelly beans, 90 million chocolate bunnies, and an untold number of marshmallow peeps.

That’s a lot of sugar!

Moreover, according to research from the NCA, 87% of parents will make Easter baskets for their children this year. It’s also interesting to note that 81% of these parents will then steal candy from their children’s baskets.

So, what are parents usually putting in Easter baskets?

• 89% say Easter candy and chocolate
• 79% include non-edible items like crayons, stuffed animals, books, and movie passes
• 46% add candy with “added benefits” like dark chocolate or chocolate with added fruits and nuts
• 44% fill the baskets with what they call “heathier snacks” such as granola bars or dried fruit
• 35% include gums and mints

That stash of Easter candy can easily put everyone in the family over their recommended sugar intakes for the day. Remember, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans assert that people should “Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.”

Perhaps it’s time to think outside the jelly bean.

A full 11% of the families surveyed by the NCA didn’t add any candy to their baskets, so I’m not being unrealistic when I say it can be done. Although candy is part of Easter traditions, consider at least limiting the amount and types of candy you put in the basket. I do like the idea of chocolate with “added benefits” like nuts. Other healthful food ideas include some 100-calorie snack packs, nuts, dried fruits, little boxes of raisins, and trail mix.

There are lots of suggestions online for non-edible items like marking pens, money, stickers, and toys. Our own Chef Judy has some great ideas for non-candy items that could also promote physical activity and healthful eating. How about replacing at least some of those jelly beans or marshmallow peeps with:

• Noodles for the pool
• Jump ropes
• Balls
• Bubble supplies with big wands
• Colorful athletic shoes
• Activity passes for fun things to do in the area
• Family board games
• Pool towels and swim goggles
• Athletic clothes
• Frisbees
• A healthful cookbook
• Cooking equipment for foodie kids
• A new reusable water bottle

Anything that gets the kids and family outside and moving or interacting together makes a great stuffer for an Easter basket, and they’ll last longer than candy too!

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

* Halloween is the first.

And here are some other fun prizes that you can put into Easter baskets…

# Sneak Peek: Work It Off

It’s time for another sneak peek inside the Nutrition Education Store!

Today I want to talk about healthful eating habits. After all, there’s simply not enough time to work off a bad diet. That’s why Beth Rosen, MS, RD, CDN and I teamed up to create this wonderful new poster, Work It Off.

Work It Off outlines exactly how much time it would take a person to burn off the calories in common foods like burgers and soft drinks. Do your clients know that it would take 1 hour and 40 minutes to walk off the calories in half a frozen pizza? Or that an oversized cinnamon roll would take 2 hours and 14 minutes to walk off? Share all this painstakingly-researched information — and more! — with this fun and colorful poster.

Of course, the fun doesn’t stop there!

This poster comes with a free PDF handout. As a bonus just for you, I’d like to share that handout in its entirety, right now!

Here’s a preview…

Exercise is an important tool for achieving a healthy lifestyle. But beware of this diet pitfall: Exercise alone will not help you reach your weight loss goals, especially if you’re eating a high-calorie diet filled with solid fats and added sugar.

Exercise does burn calories, but there is a common misperception about just how long it takes to burn enough calories to equal the calories in a meal, snack, or drink. This chart includes the calorie counts of common food choices in the typical American diet, and the duration of time that a 150-pound person needs to walk in order to burn off those calories.

How long will it take you to work it off?

Get a personalized guide to both food and exercise at Food and Health’s Exercise and Calorie Calculator. You can access it for free at https://foodandhealth.com/excalc.php!

Simply choose an activity (aerobics, yoga, walking, etc), then enter the amount of time you will take to do it. Fill in your weight in pounds, then click “Compute”. You’ll end up with a number of calories burned.

The figures are based on moderate activity levels. If your workouts are more vigorous, you can add a few calories to the number you burn.