Sweeteners in processed foods account for nearly 16% of daily intake, study finds
The added sugars in prepared and processed foods are threatening Americans' cardiovascular health, lowering levels of protective HDL cholesterol, raising levels of potentially dangerous triglcerides and possibly making people fatter, a new study finds.
"We looked at a group of people representative of the U.S. population and found a very strong correlation between cardiovascular risk factors and the amount of sugar that people are consuming," said Dr. Miriam B. Vos, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and a member of a group reporting the finding in the April 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study, based on interviews and measurements of 6,113 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study from 1999-2006, found a significant increase in sugar consumption -- from 10.6 percent of daily calories in 1977-78 to 15.8 percent now. The average American adult now consumes 3.2 ounces of added sugars a day -- equivalent to 21.4 teaspoons, or 359 calories, the study found.
About half of that sugar is in soft drinks, but they are "all over the place, in cereals, baked goods and more," Vos said. One reason for the increase is the growing concern about high-fat diets, she said. When manufacturers reduce fat content in food, they often add sugar to make it taste better, Vos said.
The effect on cholesterol and other blood lipid levels, which are major factors in the risk of stroke, heart disease and other cardiovascular problems, was plain in the study. For adults who got 10 percent or more of their daily calories from sugar, the odds of low HDL cholesterol levels -- the good cholesterol -- were 50 percent to 300 percent greater than for those getting less than 5 percent of their calories from sugar.
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