The average American consumes an estimated 1/4-1/2 pounds of sugar each day. That's the equivalent of 30 - 60 teaspoons of sugar each day. 

The Food Guide Pyramid and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people should limit added sugars to less than 10% of total calories. That would be about 6 teaspoons of sugar for a 1600 calorie diet and 10 teaspoons for a 2000 calorie diet.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting added sugars and instead focusing on consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages from the basic food groups. But what are added sugars?  Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or drinks during processing or preparation. This doesn't include naturally occurring sugars such as those in fruits or milk. 

According to a study by the USDA, people who eat a lot of sugar don't get as many nutrients as people who eat lower-sugar diets. This is because high sugar foods often replace nutrient-rich foods. 

Here are 10 ways to help you cut down on your sugar intake:

1. Think before you drink. Liquid calories add up fast. One 12-ounce can of soda contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar and one 20-ounce bottle contains about 16 teaspoons. And bottled iced teas and energy drinks often contain as much sugar as sodas.

2. Read food labels. Reading food labels can help to identify added sugars. Some names for added sugars include: sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, glucose, and dextrose.

3.  Choose nutrient rich foods first. Nutrient rich foods provide a high amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for the calories they contain. These include brightly colored fresh fruits and vegetables; lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts; whole, fiber-rich grain foods and fat-free and low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt.

4. Shop the perimeter of the store. You'll find nutrient rich foods around the perimeter of the store.

5.  Make snacks count. Nutritious snacks can help you manage your weight, hunger, health and energy.  Choose foods from the food groups such as fruit, vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheese, whole grain crackers, cereals and nuts.

6.  Pay attention to portions.  Choose small servings or share high-calorie, high-sugar desserts when you splurge.  Try a child's servings of ice cream, a miniature chocolate, or a small mocha.

7. Eat mindfully. When you indulge in a sweet treat, pay attention and savor the flavor of each and every bite. The first few bites are the most satisfying.

8. Drink water. Water is naturally calorie-free and sugar-free. Sparkling water or seltzer water is a refreshing option. These can be flavored with lemon or lime or orange wedges or ¼ cup of 100% fruit juice. 

9. Eat fruit. Naturally sweet, fruit is a satisfying and nutritious. Fresh fruit is high in water and fiber, both of which help increase fullness, helping you eat less.

10.  Eat less candy, cookies, cakes, and pies. High in sugar and fat, these foods contain lots of calories with little nutrients



1. Understanding Nutrition, Tenth Edition by Eleanor Noss Whitney and Sharon Rady Rolfes, Wadsworth Group, 2005

2.  website for Center for Science in the Public Interest

3.  website for USDA's My Pyramid