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Consuming too much added sugar is not just about obesity
One 12 oz. soda a day raises your risk of dying from heart disease.

There's new scientific information about sugar that you need to know. Research from scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now shows that overconsumption of added sugar, independent of all other risk factors, is linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease.1

These findings are the latest in a growing body of scientific evidence that reinforces an important point: sugar doesn't just make us fat; it can also make us sick. In a commentary that I co-authored with one of the CDC researchers, for JAMA Internal Medicine,2 we suggested that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift in research on the health effects of sugar; one fueled by extremely high rates of added sugar overconsumption.

The CDC paper, which was reported by NBC News,3 Reuters,4 and others, found a link between diets high in added sugars — 15 percent or more of a person's daily calories — and a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. That's 300 calories for a 2,000-calories-a-day diet or 18 teaspoons (75 grams) per day. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day.

The new findings echo a March 2014 Huffington Post story5 by Jeff Ritterman, MD, from Physicians for Social Responsibility, about a discussion he had had in a group of 12 physicians and scientists. "Each of us was convinced by the accumulating science that sugar was bad, really bad. A change in our thinking had occurred. The old paradigm was that sugar could be bad if you didn't burn off the excess calories. You would become fat, and being fat would make you prone to a host of medical illnesses like diabetes and heart disease." Now, he said, they understood that sugar consumption can kill by causing heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.

"I spent thirty years working as a cardiologist without ever once wondering what impact sugar had on the heart," Dr. Ritterman continued. "I wasn't alone in that."

The JAMA commentary also highlights the need for federal guidelines that help consumers set safe limits on their intake.

Added sugar

Any sugar added in preparation of foods, either at the table, in the kitchen or in the processing plant. This may include sucrose, high fructose corn syrup and others.

SugarScience Glossary

Heart disease

A broad term for a group of chronic diseases of the heart, these diseases include problems with blood supply to heart muscle, problems with heart valves and the electrical system of the heart. Another term you will see used to mean the same thing is cardiovascular disease.

SugarScience Glossary

Diabetes mellitus

Usually shortened to just diabetes. Sometimes called sugar diabetes. Look at Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes for more information

SugarScience Glossary

Sugars

Sugars are chemicals made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen found which taste sweet and are found in food. They are an important part of what we eat and drink and of our bodies. On this site, sugar is used to mean simple sugars (monosaccharides) like fructose or glucose, and disaccharides like table sugar (sucrose). Sucrose is two simple sugars stuck together for example (see Table sugar). Sugars are a type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are energy sources for our bodies Sugars enter the blood stream very quickly after being eaten.

SugarScience Glossary

Fat

One of the three major groups of nutrients we eat. Much of this website is related to problems associated with too much fat storage in the body. Each gram of fat produces 9 calories of energy if burned by the body as fuel. Fat can be stored in many places in the body. We generally think of fat as under the skin (subcutaneous), but the fat that may be most damaging to us is the fat stored in the liver and around the organs of the abdomen (intrahepatic and visceral or abdominal or intra-abdominal)

SugarScience Glossary

Cancer

Abnormal, uncontrolled cell growth in a part of the body, many types. Another of the chronic diseases.

SugarScience Glossary

SugarScience is the authoritative source for evidence-based, scientific information about sugar and its impact on health.

Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH

Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH, is a professor in the UCSF School of Medicine. She has dedicated her career to intervening on the social determinants of health and to understanding how lifestyle risk factors, such as alcohol and poor diet, influence chronic disease and health inequality.

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