April 21/USA TODAY -- For years, medical experts have said that to reduce the risk cardiovascular disease, consumers need to watch their consumption of saturated (animal) fat and cholesterol. They also have known that high intake of added sugars is linked to many poor health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
Researchers at Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta examined the added sugar intake and blood fat levels in more than 6,100 adults.
Added sugars included table sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, brown rice syrup, agave syrup and other caloric sweeteners in prepared and processed foods -- for instance, in soft drinks, iced tea, candy, pastries, cookies and canned fruits. Not included are the sugars in fruit, 100% juice and other whole foods.
Findings appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association:
* Participants consumed an average of 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day, or more than 320 calories a day from these sources.
* About 16% of participants' total daily caloric intake was from added sugars. That compares with 11% in 1977-78.
* People with the higher intakes of added sugars were more likely to have lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides (blood fats).
"We need to get used to consuming foods and drinks that are less sweet," says senior author Miriam Vos, an assistant professor at Emory. "People have been so focused on fat that we haven't been focused on sugar, and it's gotten away from us. This data show we can't let either one or the other get too high."
The American Heart Association says most women should consume no more than 100 calories, or 6.5 teaspoons, a day from added sugars. Most men should consume no more than 150 calories or 9.5 teaspoons a day from added sugars.
"Our data strongly support these guidelines," Vos says.
Rachel Johnson, a nutrition professor at the University of Vermont and lead author of the heart association statement on sugar, says this study reinforces the fact that people need to pay closer attention to their intake of added sugars.
From the April 26, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition