The Not-So-Sweet Side of Sugar

The Not-So-Sweet Side of Sugar

Who doesn’t like a warm cookie right out of the oven? A slice of pie made from scratch? Or a double-scoop cone on a hot summer day? A sweet treat is one of life’s simple pleasures, right?

As tasty as they may be, foods with a lot of sugar often have more calories and fewer nutrients. A diet high in calories can lead to weight gain. Being overweight boosts your risk for many serious health issues – including cancer, heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and sleep apnea.

Dietary guidelines   recommend that less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from sugars. For example, a person eating 2,000 calories a day should have no more than 13 teaspoons (about 200 calories) of sugar a day.

That may sound like a lot, but sugar is added to many foods we eat, so it can add up quickly. To help better control how much sugar you eat, check out these facts about your favorite sweet treats. And remember to always keep serving sizes in mind.

15 calories of sugar equals:
1 teaspoon
1 packet
2 cubes

Amount of added sugar in everyday foods:

Soda, 12 oz. can: 132.5 calories from sugar (8.3 teaspoons)

Nonfat fruit yogurt, 6 oz.: 77.5 calories from sugar (4.8 teaspoons)

Cake doughnut: 74.2 calories from sugar (4.6 teaspoons)

Fruit punch, 12 oz.: 62.1 calories from sugar (3.9 teaspoons)

Angel food cake, 1 piece: 60.4 calories from sugar (3.8 teaspoons)

Vanilla ice cream, ½ cup: 48 calories from sugar (3 teaspoons)

Pancake syrup, 1 tablespoon: 26.5 calories from sugar (1.7 teaspoons)

Cinnamon raisin bagel, 4”: 12.8 calories from sugar (0.8 teaspoons)

Limit the amount of sugar you eat each day to stay healthy.

Sources: The Effects of Overweight and Obesity,   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022; Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2020-2025,   US Department of Agriculture, 2023

Originally published 6/21/2016, Revised 2021, 2023