Before you plop that next spoon full of sugar in to your coffee, consider this: the average Canadian eats the equivalent of 26 tsp of sugar/day.  This finding was reported by Statistics Canada on September 28, 2011, in the Statistics Canada Health Report.  And in case you were wondering—that’s not good.

Here is a better visual extrapolation of sugar:

  • 1 tsp = 4 grams
  • 26 tsp/day = 110 grams/day
  • 110 grams/day = 770 grams/week = 40,040 grams/year
  • 40,040 grams/year = 40.04 kilograms/year = 88 pounds/year

 

In toll, sugar equates to 21% of total daily calories consumed on average.  When compared to the recommended daily intake of 40 grams, and no more than 8% of total calories derived from it per day, a significant problem becomes apparent.  Excess calories from sugar are linked to significant health problems, notably diabetes, but also many others including heart disease and obesity.

Excess sugar calories are not the only major cause for concern; so too is the types we tend to eat.  There is no doubt that sugar is a vital component in our nutrition—it is a critically important in the production of energy.  For example, one of the healthiest food classes, complex carbohydrates, is composed solely of long chains of sugar.  The problem lies in the excess intake of ‘simple sugars’ from processed food and junk food.  The body processes simple and complex sugar differently.  This is why different foods have a different ‘glycemic index’ and ‘glycemic load’.  In short, a high glycemic index indicates a simple sugar that is broken down quickly, causing a quick spike in blood sugar (bad).  In contrast, a low glycemic index indicates a more complex sugar that is broken down slowly, causing a slow increase in blood sugar (good).

Here is a quick list of common foods with simple vs. complex sugars.  As can be noted, foods that are generally associated with good health are complex, whereas foods that are generally associated with poor health are simple:

Simple Sugars

Complex Sugars

  • White Flour foods (bread and pasta)
  • Whole Grain foods (bread and pasta)
  • Most Boxed Breakfast Cereals
  • Fruits
  • Sodas, Candy, Milk Chocolate, Cakes
  • Vegetables
  • Table Sugar, Corn Syrup
  • Beans, Lentils

 

It is overly clear that our nutrition as a population is quickly deteriorating, due in large part to the fast paced lives we tend to have.  Food choices are not being made based on health, but rather on haste.  A conscious decision to change these habits is desperately needed, before the consequences of cumulative time inevitably catch up.