According to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), too much additional sugar - such as that found in regular soda, candy, cookies and cakes - can substantially increase your risk of death due to heart disease.
"The risk of cardiovascular disease death increases exponentially as you increase your consumption of added sugar," the study's lead author, Quanhe Yang, a senior scientist with the CDC, said.
As reported in USA Today:
On average, adults in the USA in 2010 consumed about 15% of their daily calories - about 300 calories a day, based on a 2,000-calorie diet - from added sugars. That's far more than the American Heart Association's recommendation that women consume no more than 100 calories a day from added sugars, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar; and men consume no more than 150 calories a day, or about 9 teaspoons. The World Health Organization recommends consuming less than 10% of calories from added sugars.Naturally occurring sugars not so much of a problem
A single can of regular soda contains something like 140 calories of added sugar, or about 7 percent of the daily calories of someone eating about 2,000 calories per day, Yang noted.
Among the items containing the added sugar: table and brown sugar, of course; high-fructose corn syrup; maple syrup; honey; molasses; and other caloric sweeteners contained in prepared and processed foods. Not included: sugars occurring naturally in fruits and fruit juices, milk and dairy products.
Yang said that major additional sources of sugars in the diets of many Americans are desserts and fruit drinks, dairy desserts like ice cream, candy and sugar-sweetened drinks.
Obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and risk factors for stroke and heart disease have all been linked to high sugar intakes in past studies, but most of those focused more on sugar-sweetened drinks, not total sugar intake, Yang told USA Today.
"Ours is the first study using a nationally representative sample to look at the total amount of added sugar and the association to cardiovascular disease death," he said.
The paper said Yang's team looked at overall trends in added-sugar intake and "reviewed data from more than 31,000 people over the years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which evaluates dietary habits based on in-person interviews. They found that most adults (71%) consume 10% or more of their daily calories from added sugars. About 10% of adults consume 25% or more of daily calories from added sugars."
The team also reviewed data of deaths due to heart disease (heart attacks, heart failure, hypertension, stroke) and compared added-sugar intake to deaths due to heart disease. The team controlled their results for a wide range of heart-disease risk factors like total cholesterol, physical activity, high blood pressure, smoking, diet and weight.
Double the risk with added sugar
Among their findings, which were published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine:
- Those who consume more than 21 percent of their daily calories from added sugar run double the risk of heart disease-related death than those who consume fewer than 10 percent of their calories from added sugars.
What that means: If you're on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet and consume more than 21 percent of those calories in added sugars, that amounts to 420 calories - or about three cans of regular soda daily.
- People who consume between 17 and 21 percent of daily calories from added sugar have a 38 percent higher risk of death from heart disease.
- People who consume seven or more weekly servings of sugar-sweetened beverages run a 29 percent higher risk of heart disease-related death than those who consume one serving or less.
Yang's team said their findings were consistent across age groups, sex, weights, dietary habits and physical activity levels.