The Problem with Added Sugar

The Problem with Added Sugar

How much added sugar is too much? What are the effects of too much added sugar?

These are the two questions this article will seek to answer. Through scientific articles, referenced for every claim made, we will paint the picture of the current sugar landscape as it relates to food.

Ideal Added Sugar Intake Ceiling

First, we find it necessary to discuss the ideal added sugar intake ceiling as stated by the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA states that ideally less than 5% of one’s total caloric intake should come from added sugars, such as refined sugar, agave syrup, honey, syrups, etc. [1]. With a 2000 calorie diet that means, ideally, one would consume no more than 25g of added sugar per day. To put this amount into perspective, a regular can of Coca-Cola has about 39g of added sugar per day, which is a whopping 156% of the AHA’s recommended added sugar consumption of 25g.

So where does the average adult and child stand when it comes to added sugar intake? Unfortunately, the scientific literature paints a much different picture than the AHA’s ideal intake levels. In fact, a 2016 study published by Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a peer-reviewed journal, found that in 2012, adults and children consumed 308 and 326 calories per day, respectively, from added sugars. [2]. Another 2011 study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that in 2008 the consumption of added sugars was about 76.7 grams of added sugar per day. 76.7 grams of added sugar per day amounts to 306.8 calories per day of added sugar.

Notably, the studies looked at sugar consumption in 2012 and 2008 respectively, and the calories per day of added sugar showed virtually no change. 76.7 grams of sugar amounted to 306.8 calories per day in the 2011 study, while the 2016 study showed calories per day of added sugar ranging from 308 to 326. Therefore, the current trend is more of the same: significant overconsumption of added sugars.

These studies consistently show people consume at least 300 calories from added sugar per day. Based on the AHA’s 100 calorie recommendation for added sugar per day, people consume at least 300% more added sugar than the AHA recommends.

To Much Added Sugar Can Kill

The logical follow up to this is the question of what if people consume 300% more sugar than the AHA recommends, why does it matter?

It matters for a number of reasons. The ones we will discuss are chronic heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and even memory formation. It is important to note that some of the leading causes of death for Americans, as published by the Center for Disease Control, are:

  • Heart disease: 635,260
  • Cancer: 598,038
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 116,103
  • Diabetes: 80,058


Notably, our discussions will involve the relation between excess added sugar consumption and five of the leading causes of death for Americans.

Added Sugar Consumption and Heart Disease (CHD)

So how do Americans consume such large amounts of added sugar? One study found that collectively, sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest contributor to added sugar intake in the United States. This includes any beverage that contains added caloric sweeteners such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, or refined sugar. [4].

The study demonstrated that a close parallel is shown between the upsurge of obesity and rising levels of sugar-sweetened beverages. [4]. Furthermore, the prevalence of obesity and its related chronic diseases have been rising at unprecedented rates across the globe, being cited as a pandemic. [4].

One study published by the American Medical Association found a significant relationship between the consumption of added sugar and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality. [5]. Furthermore, the study’s results were largely consistent across body mass index, health eating index, physical activity, age group, sex, educational attainment, and race/ethnicity. [5].

Another study published by the American Heart Association found added sugar consumption even affects US adolescents. [6]. The study found that added sugar consumption was positively associated with numerous measures that are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. [6].

To decrease one’s chances of cardiovascular disease, it follows from the research that added sugar consumption should decrease. The AHA states that 25g of added sugar per day is a sufficient decreased level.

Added Sugar Consumption and Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers with a five-year survival rate of only about 5%. [7]. One study found that overconsumption of high sugar foods may induce frequent hyperglycemia, increasing the body’s demand for insulin and decreasing insulin sensitivity, which may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. [7].

Other studies also demonstrated an association between cancer and added sugar intake. (1) American Journal of Epidemiology (a high sugar diet, classified as a “Western dietary pattern”, was associated with an increased risk of colon cancer [8]); (2) American Association for Cancer Research (sucrose intake and consumption of sweet buns and cookies may be associated with increased risk of endometrial cancer [9]).

Added Sugar Consumption and Alzheimer’s Disease

A cross-sectional study published by the Alzheimer’s association looked at the consumption of added sugar beverages and Alzheimer’s disease pathology. [10]. The study found that relative to consuming less than one sugary beverage per day, a higher intake of sugary beverages was negatively correlated with total brain volume. [10]. This means increases in sugary beverage intake was associated with decreases in total brain volume. [10].

Furthermore, in 2006 The New York Times published an article summarizing the link found in new studies between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. [11]. The article stated that several studies suggest type-2 diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. [11]. This is interesting because voluminous amounts of literature show an increase in added sugar intake and an increased risk of diabetes.

Added Sugar Consumption and Diabetes

The Diabetes Care Journal published a study demonstrating that high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. [12].

Another study published by The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT found that the impact of sugar on diabetes was independent of both a sedentary lifestyle and alcohol usage. [13]. Furthermore, the study found declines in sugar exposure was significantly correlated with subsequent declines in diabetes rates. [13]. Notably, this significant correlation was still seen when controlling for socioeconomic, dietary, and obesity prevalence changes. [13].

Added Sugar Consumption and Memory Formation

Lastly, added sugar intake has also been shown to have effects on new memory formation. [14]. The study found that a diet high in refined sugar and fat reduced brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels, neuronal plasticity, and learning. [14].

ilixer For Health

Food should be made with the people in mind that it’s serving. This includes food that is conscious of the ideal levels of added sugar consumption and, more generally, bridging the gap between important nutrients and what the average diet lacks. With this mindset, ilixer was born.

ilixer Contains No Added Sugars, Period.

ilixer’s naturally occurring sugars come from real organic fruits and vegetables. We add no sugar to ilixer. Furthermore, the amount of naturally occurring sugar in ilixer comes out to less than 100 calories of sugar per day of usage. This means that if one was to drink ilixer for all their meals throughout a day, less than 100 of the ilixer calories were from natural sugars.  

Ilixer is far below the AHA’s ideal ceiling of 100 calories per day from added sugar since it contains 0 calories from added sugar.

We created ilixer so you can be confident you will consume a product with your health in mind. ilixer has thought about its formula make up for your health so you don’t have to.

ilixer contains all recommended vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbs, and fiber with four servings of organic fruits and vegetables.

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