Added Sugar and Its Impact

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Sugar’s reputation for health is low. We have all heard so much advice on how many teaspoons we should put in our morning coffee or just altogether avoid it! Be it weight gain or glowing skin, avoiding sugar has always been on the list. Having excessive sugar intake can negatively impact your health. 

It’s worth noting that sugar is commonly found in processed foods and can be disguised under various names, such as agave nectar or corn syrup. 

It’s not just sweets and pastries that contain high amounts of sugar; even savoury snacks like bread and tomato ketchup can be loaded with it. The detrimental effects of sugar on the body are numerous.

Added sugar 

Excessive consumption of added sugar can result in various health issues. Added sugar refers to the sugar that food manufacturers incorporate into products to enhance taste or extend their shelf life.

The primary sources of added sugar in the American diet include soft drinks, candy, fruit drinks, cereals, flavoured yoghurts, cookies, cakes, and most processed foods. Surprisingly, added sugar can also be found in items not typically considered sweetened, such as soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup. As a result, we end up consuming far too much-added sugar. 

The impact of excess sugar on diabetes and obesity is well-documented. However, one aspect that may come as a surprise to many men is how their preference for sugar can significantly affect their heart health.

Reading food labels is one of the best ways to monitor your added sugar intake. It’s essential to be aware of the different names for added sugar and try to avoid or reduce the amount of foods that contain them.

Some examples include brown sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup fruit juice concentrates, malt sugar, honey, corn sweetener inverted sugar, molasses, and syrup sugar molecules ending in “ose” like dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose.

When checking food labels, pay attention to the total sugar content, which includes added sugar. This is usually listed in grams. Please observe the quantity of sugar in grams per serving and the total servings provided.

Sometimes, a product may have a low amount of sugar per serving, but the sugar intake can add up quickly if you consume multiple servings.

It’s also important to keep track of the sugar you add to your food and beverages. Beverages, including coffee and tea, contribute to about half the added sugar intake for many people.

The researchers also discovered that more than 60% of the calories in these beverages came from added sugar. So, be mindful of the sugar you add to your drinks.

Harmful effects of using added sugar

Risk of obesity

Obesity rates are on the rise all over the world, and it seems that one of the main culprits is added sugar, especially in sugary drinks.

Drinks like juices, sodas and sweet teas are packed with fructose, a simple sugar type. Unlike glucose, which is found in starchy foods, consuming fructose makes you hungrier and increases your food cravings.

Studies have shown that consuming too much fructose can lead to resistance to leptin, an important hormone that regulates hunger and signals your body to stop eating.

This means that sugary beverages don’t satiate your hunger, making it easy to consume a large number of liquid calories in a short amount of time. And as we all know, consuming excess calories can lead to weight gain.

Furthermore, drinking a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages has been associated with an accumulation of visceral fat, which is a type of deep belly fat that is associated with conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Risk of heart disease 

There is a strong correlation between high-sugar diets and an elevated risk of various diseases, such as heart disease, which is the primary cause of death globally.

Scientific evidence indicates that consuming excessive amounts of sugar can result in obesity, inflammation, and elevated blood sugar levels, triglycerides, and blood pressure. These factors are all known to increase the likelihood of developing heart disease.

Furthermore, the consumption of excessive sugar, mainly through sugar-sweetened beverages, has been linked to the development of atherosclerosis. This condition is characterised by the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries.

A study has demonstrated that individuals who consume higher amounts of added sugar have a significantly greater risk of developing heart diseases and experiencing coronary complications compared to those who consume less added sugar.

Drinking just one sugary beverage per day can almost reach the daily recommended limit for added sugar. It is important to note that increased sugar intake not only heightens the risk of cardiovascular diseases but also increases the likelihood of experiencing a stroke.

High blood pressure 

Often, salt is blamed for this condition, also known as hypertension. However, some researchers suggest that another white crystal, sugar, might be a more concerning culprit. They believe that sugar can cause blood pressure to rise by causing excessive insulin levels. This can result in less flexible blood vessels and the kidneys’ retention of water and sodium.

Liver disease 

Many packaged foods, snacks, and beverages are sweetened with fructose, a simple sugar derived from fruits or vegetables like corn. When consumed regularly, fructose is converted into fat by the liver.

This can lead to the accumulation of tiny fat droplets in the liver, known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Making early dietary changes can reverse this condition. However, if left untreated, it can progress to liver swelling and scarring.

Causes acne

Consuming a diet rich in sugar may lead to the onset of acne. This is due to the rapid absorption of sugary foods into the bloodstream, which results in elevated blood sugar levels and initiates inflammation and heightened sebum production.

Blood sugar spikes can also disrupt hormonal balance, which can further worsen acne. A study discovered that individuals who frequently consumed sugar, pastries, and cakes were more likely to develop acne.

Findings revealed a connection between a high-glycemic diet, high carbohydrate intake, and acne.

Risk of diabetes

Overeating sugar can significantly raise your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Consuming a lot of sugar causes your blood sugar levels to rise, prompting your body to produce insulin. Insulin helps your cells use and store glucose for energy.

If your blood sugar is always high, your body will produce more and more insulin. Over time, this can lead to a decreased sensitivity to insulin, which is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

According to a study, consuming an extra 150 calories of sugar per day increases the risk of diabetes by approximately one percent. That’s roughly equivalent to drinking one can of soda daily.

Increased cancer risk

Consuming high amounts of sugar can increase your chances of developing certain types of cancer. Studies have shown that obesity, which can be caused by a diet high in sugar, is a significant risk factor in about 20 percent of cancer cases. 

Additionally, there may be a connection between insulin resistance and an increased risk of cancer, although more research is needed to understand this relationship fully. 

Tooth decay

We know sugar can cause cavities, but have you ever wondered how? Well, when you consume sugar, it nourishes the bacteria in your mouth.

These bacteria then produce acid, which gradually erodes your tooth enamel. Sugary drinks, dried fruits, candy, and chocolate are some of the main culprits of tooth decay. 

Sour candies are particularly harmful, almost as acidic as battery acid! If you indulge in these treats, it’s a good idea to rinse your mouth with water afterwards or have a glass of milk to neutralise the acid.

Poor mental health

Are you feeling down? Your sweet tooth might be to blame. Numerous studies have connected sugar consumption to mental health issues.

Excessive sugar intake can contribute to depression by causing inflammation in the brain, which is more prevalent in individuals with depression.

Poor sleep

Additionally, consuming too much sugar throughout the day can disrupt your blood glucose levels, leading to energy spikes and crashes. This can make it challenging to stay alert at work or awake during class.

Indulging in sugary treats like ice cream or cookies in the evening can also interfere with sleep. The sugar can keep you awake at night and prevent you from experiencing deep, restful sleep. As a result, you may wake up feeling groggy and not fully refreshed.

Tips to reduce sugar intake

Excessive added sugar can hurt your health. While consuming small amounts of sugar is okay, reducing your sugar intake as much as possible is essential. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Instead of reaching for sodas, energy drinks, or juices, opt for unsweetened seltzer.
  • Enjoy your coffee black or use natural sweeteners instead of adding sugar.
  • Rather than buying flavoured yoghurt with added sugar, sweeten plain yoghurt with frozen berries.
  • When choosing cereals and granola bars, look for options with less than 4 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Swap out readymade sweet spreads for natural nut butter.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages that contain added sugar or agave.
  • Focus on incorporating more fresh, whole ingredients into your meals.

The best way to limit your added sugar intake is by preparing healthy meals at home and avoiding packaged foods and drinks high in added sugar. 

Remember, minor changes to reduce sugar intake can significantly impact your overall health.


What is added sugar?

Added sugar refers to sugars included in food processing, during cooking, or when sweetening your meals at home. For instance, adding sucrose or dextrose during food production is considered an added sugar. Similarly, using honey to sweeten your tea while sitting at your kitchen table is also classified as an added sugar.

What is the average recommended amount of sugar to be taken?

Men should limit their added sugar intake to 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) daily. On the other hand, women should aim for even less, with a recommended limit of 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day. It’s important to note that just one 12-ounce can of soda contains a whopping 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar!


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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