When it comes to helping Canadians understand how much sugar is too much, don’t be fooled into thinking science plays much of a roll. You will be shocked at Health Canada’s new recommendations!
Up until very recently there has been no daily recommended upper limit for sugar on your Nutrient Facts Label. This may be in part because there has been no generally accepted upper limit for sugar. More likely it is because the food industry has had a strong interest in resisting the introduction of any sugar limits.
Canada and the US have been in the midst of updating their labels. The food industry has fought back and won the battle. The new upper limits are not great for those in the US and totally absurd in Canada. Attempts by the World Health Organization (WHO) to set an international standard for upper limits to sugars have been sabotaged by the strong lobbying of the sugar and junk food industry. The WHO is recommending that sugars be limited, ideally, to 6 teaspoons) per day. This contrasts markedly with the US, recommending a 12.5 teaspoon daily limit and Canada recommending a 25 teaspoon upper daily limit.
Here is how politics plays out!
Sugar overload mayhem
Did you know that the processed food industry adds sugar according to an established scientifically studied goal called THE BLISS POINT. The bliss point is the point at which a food ingredient such as sugar reaches its maximum ecstasy for you, beyond which it would have diminishing returns. It is like a sugar bell curve. Large food manufacturers use it to determine just how much sugar to put into processed foods. Do not be fooled into only checking sweet foods for sugar content. Just like salt, sugar is ubiquitous, and can be found in many products including breads, sauces, dressings, yogurts and more.
Calculating sugar intake
Calculating sugar is easy. First, look for the number of grams of sugar on the Nutrition Facts Label. Let us assume 28 grams. Next, convert grams to teaspoons by simply dividing by 4 (28/4). The answer is 7. This means there are 7 teaspoons of sugar per SERVING SIZE. So you need to know what THE serving size is and how many serving sizes YOU are eating.
Put your skills to the test
Please do not assume you do not eat too much sugar. Most of my patients grossly underestimate their sugar consumption. As a fun health project, take one day to add up your total sugar levels. Your sugar goal should be the following: as little as possible and ideally no more than 6 teaspoons a day. I am rooting for you! If your sugar intake is above this amount, seek the help of a professional.
My Bottom Line: Sugar is the one nutrient you definitely do want to keep track of. Just divide the total grams by 4 to get the number of teaspoons. Do not forget the serving size. Set a 6 teaspoon daily limit.