Nutrition - Junk food

Americans eat a lot of sugar. In fact, the average person in the United States consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year. This is the equivalent of 1/4 cup of sugar a day. Almost 25 percent of the calories the average person consumes each day comes from sugar. This far exceeds what health experts recommend—less than 10 percent.

Sugars are a form of carbohydrates. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple refers to single units of sugar like table sugar. Complex carbohydrates are starches and fiber found in grain foods, fruits, and vegetables. During digestion, all carbohydrates are broken down to sugar. When most people think of sugar, they think only of white table sugar. However, sugars do occur naturally in many foods like milk, fruits, and vegetables. Less than 10 percent of the sugar that Americans consume is from natural sources. The rest is from "junk food," such as candy, soda, or processed foods.


To help give some perspective on the amount of sugar in each of these items, imagine dumping this many spoonfuls of sugar on to your morning bowl of cereal:

Junk Food

• 12-ounce can of soda 6–11 teaspoons
• 8 ounces of Kool-Aid 6
• Candy bar (1 ounce) 7
• 1 cup sugar-coated cereal 6
• 1 cup chocolate milk 3
• 1 piece of cake with frosting 7

The major nutritional concern about sugar is that it can displace other more nutritious foods in a person's diet. Sugar provides calories but no essential nutrients by itself. If people consume a lot of sugary foods, they may not have room for foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. A diet high in sugar does not cause hyperactivity as many people claim. Nor is it the cause of diabetes (a disease that disables the body from controlling the level of sugar in the blood). The only disease that sugar causes is tooth decay.

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