The Food and Drug Administration this week recommended that people eat no more than 12.5 teaspoons of sugar each day, or about 50 grams. The idea is to limit sugar consumption to 10 percent of a person’s daily total calories. Currently, Americans get about 16 percent of their calories from added sugars on average.
The new rule is not as strict as the sugar caps other health organizations have suggested. The World Health Organization endorses a limit of six teaspoons, or 25 grams, per day.
The new limit part of the FDA’s push to change food labels to display the total amount of added sugars in a food, as opposed to natural sugars. (This is similar to how “saturated fat” and “total fat” are currently separated out on food labels.) Although added and natural sugars are chemically similar, foods that contain natural sugars, like fruit, usually contain other nutrients, like fiber, that are considered beneficial. Added sugar, meanwhile, is just that: superfluous. It’s been indicted by many nutritionists as one driver of the obesity epidemic and a potential cause of other health problems, such as heart disease.
If you are a sugar lover, you might not pay heed to FDA announcements. But if you do, this ought to make you nervous. Twelve teaspoons sounds like a lot, but given the amount of hidden, added sugars in the American diet, it adds up quickly.