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How Much Extra Sugar is That?

Saturday, January 09, 2016

I got to thinking tonight after a conversation with my best friend. She complained that the new USDA recommended amount of added sugar you should intake (10% or less of your daily calories) is unrealistically low, in part because sugar has become nearly inescapable today in our processed foods. (This nearly led into the usual argument about whether or not it's possible to eat healthy if you're poor.)

At work tonight I peered at the new stock in the market cooler. In somewhat recent times, soda bottlers have started listing the total contents of one 20 oz (591ml) bottle of soda as one serving. To their credit, this is a good start at being more realistic about what people are drinking.

Then, as my brain tends to do, I started doing math. What if someone drank an extra 20oz soda every day? Didn't count it as part of their daily calories, because it was 'just a soda'. Mind you, I've seen plenty of people who drink their way through several of these bottles a day without batting an eye in thought of what they're doing. What would this extra bottle add up to?

It depends on the particular brand, but for this mental exercise I'll go with a regular old bottle of Pepsi. (Sorry, that's what we have in stock.) I won't cheat and use Mt. Dew as an example, as that has even more sugar in a bottle. A 20oz bottle of Pepsi is listed on its label as having 69 grams of sugar in it. (The Coke website lists their 20oz as having 65 grams of sugar, if you insist on the brand comparison.) 69 grams of sugar! Ignoring the fact that the label is sort of lying about the calorie count (69 grams of carbs would be 276 calories, not the listed 250), that's a honking lot of sugar. Like, 17 sugar packets of sugar.

So, our imaginary Pepsi fiend has that extra bottle of their delicious sugar bomb of choice every day for a 365 day year. What does that add up to? (In advance: Pardon if my math is off.)
69 grams over 365 days = 25,185 grams. That's 25.185 kilograms, or 55.5 pounds!
At 4 calories a gram of sugar, that amounts to an extra 100,740 calories over the course of a year. That amounts to an extra 28.78 pounds worth of calories! (26 pounds if you go with the bottle's quoted 250 calorie count.)

I guess my point of this thought exercise is that if you're going to drink it, track it. All of it. That soda, that juice, that sugar and chocolate thing with a little coffee added in, that booze--all of it. Otherwise, you might be sabotaging your otherwise sterling dietary efforts.

If you need me, I'll be over here nervously sipping my cup of water.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Complaining about the sugar recommendations means that you're not willing to eat whole, real foods. The high sugar levels inevitably come packed in a can or box or bag, not displayed in a case or a bin.

    As to the eating well on a budget argument, here's a great blog for consideration:


    BUDGETMAW is specifically low carb, and low carb is notoriously characterized as impossible to do on a budget because meat and veg are so expensive. Not really the case. She periodically does a low carb Food Stamp Challenge. Fascinating! I live in PA and the idea of feeding a family of four on 11.91 a day is pretty daunting, especially since my kids are teenage boys!
    2027 days ago
  • no profile photo L_DROUIN
    Great information! Thanks for sharing.
    2034 days ago
    Posts like this make it so easy to put the soda back! I have a similar reaction to frozen meals and sodium, I don't get how people think that's food :-/
    2034 days ago
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