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How many pounds of sugar can an average person take without going crazy?

Asked by: Grace Strojny
School: Seton Catholic at All Saints School
Grade: 6
Teacher: Mr. Martinkovic
Hobbies/Interests: Dance, basketball and ride bikes
Career Interest: Famous dancer

Answer from Jennifer Wegmann

Lecturer, Binghamton University

Research area: Eating disorders and body image
Interests/hobbies: Exercising, reading, writing
Family: Husband, Tom; two Sons - Nick & TJ

First it is important to explain the different types of sugars to better understand the effect they can have on our health and behavior. You may recognize lactose, a sugar found in milk; fructose, a sugar found in fruit; or sucrose, the white sugar you may add to your foods. High fructose corn syrup is also a very popular sugar added to foods to make them sweet. All sugars are carbohydrates and they provide 4 calories for every gram we consume.

Your question refers to sucrose, high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars.  You have probably heard from adults that you shouldn’t eat too much sugar because it can make you act crazy, but sugar does not make a person go crazy. Many people believe that sugar can make children hyperactive and overly excited; however, research does not support a link between hyperactivity and sugar consumption.

Regardless of the true impact of sugar on children's behavior there are still many good reasons to limit sugar intakes. First, sugar remains a major culprit in tooth decay, which leads to cavities. Second, high-sugar foods tend to act as empty calories, meaning that they have little to no nutritional value. Additionally, they provide a lot of excess calories that can lead to weight gain. Finally, too much added sugar like high fructose corn syrup is not healthy for your heart. It can lead to an increase in triglycerides, which increase your risk for developing heart disease. 

The World Health Organization recommends that no more than 10% of our caleries should come from sugar. In a 2,000-calorie-a day diet, that's just 200 calories -- or eight heaping teaspoons. Sadly, American's consume excessive amounts, on average 22 teaspoons a day and most of it comes in the form of soft drinks. For example, a 20 ox. coke has approximately 17 teaspoons of sugar, twice the amount of sugar we consume. Try replacing processed sugar-laden foods with  more whole natural foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Last Updated: 3/1/17